First, the parade is on a Thursday. A Thursday! Who wants to call in sick to work on Thursday, only to come back to work on Friday and pretend they’re still nursing a summer cold?
The other problem is that the rally afterward is a ticketed event at Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. The rally tickets were free through the Ticketmaster website at noon Wednesday. The 75,000 available tickets sold out in 20 minutes, and — to the disappointment of many Blackhawks fans — were being scalped on eBay moments later.
Just a bit of quick history on the previous two Blackhawks rallies. In 2010, the post-parade rally was held at the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Wacker Dr. in downtown Chicago. In 2013, the rally was at Grant Park. Both places were large enough to accommodate the estimated two million fans who attended each time. That many people in the streets is a safety concern. Grant Park’s ground is still soggy from the heavy rains the past few days. Chicago Mayer Rahm Emmanuel told reporters that the grass would be destroyed:
““The normal place we were gonna do [it was] Grant Park. I’m not responsible [for the soggy conditions]. Only you and my mother would agree that I was responsible for the rain the other day. And it would rip it up in a way that would create millions and millions of dollars in damage,” (from the Chicago Sun Times)
So a different venue had to be used. Still, only 75,000 tickets left out many ‘Hawks fans.
Though I had no intentions of going to the rally, I still tried to get free tickets. You know, for scientific research purposes. Two million fans, 75,000 tickets, the Ticketmaster website — what could go wrong?
At 11:45 a.m., I pulled up the ticket ordering page on my computer, watching the little timer on the website count down the minutes until tickets were available.
At 12 p.m., the screen refreshed and tickets were available for ordering. I tried to get four. A little “loading” circle appeared.
Five minutes later, this message appeared:
Searching for tickets…We are experiencing higher traffic than usual. Your wait time is approximately 23 minutes.
Two minutes later, the wait time changed from 23 minutes to 27 minutes, then 45 minutes, then back down to 23 minutes.
Finally, after about 15 minutes, a new message appeared:
Sorry no tickets from venue currently. Tons of fans are shopping, and some may have let their tickets go. You can try again, or explore one of the options below.
Oh yes, people who got tickets did let them go — on eBay.
Blackhawks “fans” — and I can’t make those quotes more deprecating if I tried — were scalping their free rally tickets on eBay, with an average price of $100 each. One seller was even trying to sell two seats to the left of the stage for $2,500.
The sad thing is, people were actually buying them at the inflated prices, anywhere from $25 to $150 per ticket, depending on how close the seats were to the stage. But to fans who missed out the last two times, or figure that there may never be a next time, it was probably money well spent. (Heck, I even overpaid for Beck tickets once.)
For those who didn’t get tickets and don’t want to spend $100, here is some free advice. Stay home and watch the parade and the rally on TV. It will be televised locally on WGN Channel 9 and on CSN-Chicago — the latter will even be co-hosted by former WWE wrestler CM Punk, which should be fun. Plus, every time Corey Crawford, Andrew Shaw or another Blackhawks player drops an f-bomb in their speech, you can rewind and hear it again. ■