Scalpers smiling, parents steamed over 'Hannah Montana' tickets

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Paige Sebelin, 9, left, and Kayla Callans, 9, of Parma, Ohio, looked over their newly purchased tickets for "Hannah Montana" Sunday outside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The hottest concert ticket of the year is to 14-year-old Miley Cyrus' 54-date national tour as Hannah Montana, star of a Disney Channel show for kids. (TRACY BOULIAN ~ The Plain Dealer)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Forget The Police, Justin Timberlake or Bruce Springsteen. The undisputed hottest concert ticket of the year is for 14-year-old pop star Miley Cyrus, star of the Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" TV show.

Fans are so desperate for seats to her 54-date tour, kicking off later this month, that venues have sold out in as little as four minutes and scalpers are getting four to five times the face value -- creating a torrent of complaints from frustrated parents.

"We knew it was hot, but we had no idea it was this crazy," said Debra Rathwell, senior vice president of AEG Live, which is handling her tour. "It's like the Beatles."

About 12,000 seats for the Memphis, Tenn., show were gone in 8 minutes. It took 15 minutes in Columbus, Ohio, and swift sellouts have been reported across the country -- Nashville, Miami, Lexington, Ky. The Kansas City Council is investigating the matter.

One ticket for the show in Charlotte, N.C., sold for $2,565.

Miley, daughter of country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus, plays high school student Miley Stewart, who lives a secret double life as a famous pop star, Hannah Montana. Her show reaches 5 million viewers a week.

The sold-out "Best of Both Worlds Tour," which begins Oct. 18, follows the release of her double album, "Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus," which has already sold more than 1 million copies since its release in June. The first album, released late last year, sold more than 2 million copies.

Paige Nace, 35, hoped to take her daughter to see Miley at the Arena at Gwinnett Center outside of Atlanta. Nine-year-old Arianna had been begging to see her live ever since she started watching the show, Nace said.

"I think that's it's pretty cool she is coming here," Arianna said. "I want to get up on stage and sing with her. Most likely every girl I know likes Hannah."

But in 4 minutes, tickets to the November show were gone. Nace said tickets were being resold for inflated prices on Internet sites like Craigslist and eBay Inc.'s ticket-reselling subsidiary StubHub.

"All the ticket brokers and scalpers are trying to sell them for $100 to $200 a piece," Nace said. "If they would have been face value, I would have gladly gotten them."

The tour promoter capped prices at $65 and put a four-ticket maximum on each transaction. However, the average ticket for the Hannah Montana tour was being resold for $214. That beats the average resale price for Timberlake ($182), Beyonce ($193), or The Police ($209).

Understandably, that's riling a lot of fans.

"I feel like they are ripping off children," Nace said. "I'm sure there are parents out there would pay that much. But the rest of us shouldn't be penalized for that."

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