Another day, another version of the truth for #TicketGate

You know that someone is lying or being less than truthful when their story keeps changing, and for Sporting KC that is exactly the case.  First it was that someone hacked a code that hadn’t been released yet, then it was that the code was only to be used by SKC staff to help those who couldn’t use their unique code on Ticketmaster to buy their tickets.  Of course neither of those made any sense and I didn’t buy them for a second as they left more questions than answers.  Now we get a new story, and one that I believe is much closer to the truth, on KCTV’s website there is a story that contains the latest version:

Sporting season ticket holders were given a special code by Ticketmaster so they could go online and buy tickets. The only problem was that somehow Real Salt Lake fans got their hands on the code and started buying them online before the code got to most Sporting fans.

“Once it went viral you can imagine what happened. The majority of their fans bought upward of 1,000 tickets. We shut it down as soon as we found out about it,” said Jake Reid, the chief revenue officer for Sporting.

In all about 200 Sporting season ticket holders were affected by the stunt. Ticket managers have been working the phones to make sure the ones planning on going to the game got their tickets.

“Once we figured it out, we worked with Ticketmaster and figured out what had happened and closed it down and refunded the tickets. Obviously for us it’s intended for our season ticket members,” Reid said.

They go on to mention that this was for a block of about 5,000 tickets, which is in addition to the SKC STM’s being able to purchase (with their unique code) the same number of tickets as they have season tickets.  So they have their 10-11,000 season tickets plus this 5,000 tickets and they were worried that maybe up to 1000 of those 16,000 might have been bought by RSL fans with the leaked code.  Of course if you read their own words, about 200 SKC STM’s were impacted, so that means they had bought tickets so that means less than 800 and probably less than 500 of the tickets had actually been bought by RSL fans using the code.  Which happened as a result of a leaked code, you know when a SKC fan put the code out online to let their friends buy tickets with it (which is OK I guess since they live in KC) and then it leaked.

What strikes me as funny/sad about this is the way SKC as an organization have reacted, first they put together a plan that had big holes in it, using a generic code and thinking it wouldn’t get out of their control to be used by others.  By others I mean scalpers, others in KC who may not be STM’s, and yes maybe by some RSL fans.  It happens whenever generic codes are used and something that anyone who attends evens knows about, but I guess not SKC.  Once their plan got out of control, their reaction was first to panic, which lead to them telling people that the code was hacked and that it had never been used or released to anyone.  Well that wasn’t the truth as Ticketmaster doesn’t allow codes to be used outside of their authorized dates and times.

Then they decided that what realistically was about 5-600 tickets purchased by RSL fans was worth cancelling 1000 tickets and creating what will be chaos on match day as many of those tickets have already hit the secondary market.  The correct reaction in my opinion would have been to shut down the code and acknowledge a mistake and work to ensure that the remaining 4,000 plus tickets they wanted for their STM’s went to them (they actually did this yesterday afternoon via those unique account codes) and to move on.  Yes it would have meant that several hundred RSL fans would have had tickets to the match in a crowd of the 18-20,000 SKC fans that weren’t part of the annoyingly small 1,000 allocation.  Would that have been the end of the world?  Nope, but it would have been a way to prevent a huge black eye for SKC and MLS, which is what this has turned into as they have tried to paint RSL fans as hackers and villains.

Once their two versions of the story didn’t stop the questions they went to MLS and complained and got them to make a statement about a secure link that RSL fans weren’t authorized to use, of course we all know that generic codes on the general ticketmaster MLS Cup ticket page isn’t anything near secure.  Now there are 5-600 RSL fans who bought tickets using a code leaked by a SKC STM (why would they leak it, if not to allow “unauthorized” people access) who made travel plans, booked hotels and planned vacation time at work. So while I understand some SKC fans being upset that a few hundred of the 15,000 available tickets went to RSL fans, the reaction to the issue was far greater than the reality of the situation.

Hundreds or thousands of tickets to MLS Cup have or will make their way onto the secondary market like stubhub and craigslist (there are already over 500 on stubhub.com alone, another 200 plus on tickets now) and where do you think those tickets came from?  I can tell you SKC STM’s who are clearly more interested in how they can make a profit than actually showing up to watch their team play for a championship.  Those tickets can be bought by anyone, including RSL fans, so it seem to me that the real issue is that SKC is worried about RSL fans being able to buy tickets directly from them for the actual price and not inflated secondary market prices.

In all of this, the one thing that Sporting Kansas City hasn’t done is acknowledge they made a mistake, a mistake the inconvenienced hundreds of MLS fans both in Kansas City and in Salt Lake City. Instead they have pointed fingers, blamed imaginary hackers, and shown with their actions that they reacted like children instead of a real professional sports franchise.  I wonder if the Chiefs would have reacted this way if a couple hundred tickets ended up in the hands of Bronco fans for Sunday’s big game?

That’s How I See It

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