NJ Turnpike, Sports & Expo, no longer go-to for sold-out tix in NJ-Gov. Christie axes fat cat perk
- (photo sold out Bon Jovi concert last week at Meadowlands, by Star-Ledger)
- must be turned back to the public.
- Springsteen. U2. BonJovi. It didn’t matter.
Commissioners, legislators, judges — even the governor’s office — were able to score scarce or prime seats at public venues without ever going through a ticket scalper.
- They simply called the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority or the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and asked for house seats.
Today, Gov. Chris Christie shut the exclusive ticket window.
- In letters to both agencies, Jeffrey Chiesa, the governor’s chief counsel, said the controversial perk was a violation of the state’s ethics code and could not be offered to any state officers or employees — including cabinet members, employees of the governor’s office, authority members or the Legislature.
Chiesa said any house seats for future events that have already been contractually provided to the authorities by promoters
- must be turned over to the box office and made available to the public.
"The public can now be assured of having the same access to those seats, under the same market conditions, as anyone else, no matter who they work for," said Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor. "The prior policy had been in place for many years and set a bad example. And frankly, it led people to believe that the playing field for tickets was not level. Times have changed, and it was time to end this practice."
Officials at the two authorities said they would immediately comply with the order.
- The sports authority operates the Izod Center and the Meadowlands Sports Complex,
- and the turnpike authority owns the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.
Both authorities have long had a practice of holding back or setting aside large numbers of tickets for concerts and shows which they would give away or sell at face value to
- those who knew the right people to call.
Two years ago, an analysis by The Star-Ledger of ticket sales for a series of sold-out Bruce Springsteen concerts at Giants Stadium found
- many of the best seats were held back from the general public and sold at face value to local sports teams, sponsors and political figures.
Of the 160,000 tickets available for the three shows, nearly 2,600 were sold as house tickets for $98 each.
- Two sports authority commissioners purchased about 50 tickets each. Others went to legislators
- and a sitting judge, the analysis found.
Officials who purchased the tickets said there was nothing wrong with the practice because they were paying full price. But most of those concerts were often quickly sold out, shutting out fans whose only recourse was to buy from scalpers.
- Or in some cases, the tickets were in prime locations.
The issue had been under review for months, after renewed disclosures earlier this year that nearly two dozen officials, including the office of then-Gov. Jon Corzine, had been able to buy
- more than 350 set-aside seats for 15 concerts in 2009, including sold-out shows by Springsteen and U2.
Corzine never personally used the tickets, which were bought on behalf of people who contacted his office for help getting seats, according to a spokesman.
- Records of those purchases were part of a state lawsuit against ticket websites.
Last week, Bloomberg News reported the sports authority had also spent more than $1 million for seats at the New Meadowlands Stadium built by the
- Giants and Jets, paying $854,000 in seat license fees and another $221,600 for actual tickets to 20 games in the 2010 season.
Sports authority officials said the seats were intended for business partners, politicians and others associated with the agency, as well as sponsors of its other facilities and others valuable to its business.
- Dennis Robinson, the sports authority president and CEO, said today the order was very clear. "As of today, we will comply," he remarked.
In April, the turnpike authority announced it was suspending its practice of selling house seats, pending review by the governor’s office. According to authority spokesman Joe Orlando the policy to sell house seats went back more than two decades.
- "They were available and if you knew to call here, we would sell them to you," he said. "But as of today, we’re not in the ticket selling business anymore.""
- (P.S. For the record, the Star-Ledger did not endorse Chris Christie when he ran for governor. To put it mildly. ed.)