INDIANAPOLIS – A few days time has done little to ease the frustrations of some Elton John fans who say a lack of notice about seating changes at Gainbridge Fieldhouse ruined a concert they had waited years for.
Bill Creech said he bought tickets to Friday night’s concert in October 2018 as a gift to his family. Like hundreds of other concertgoers, however, Creech discovered that the seats he had purchased were no longer available because of renovations at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“After three and a half years, buying these tickets, wanting to do a good thing for my family, then we get screwed like that,” Creech said. “That’s pretty bad.”
The tickets Creech had spent $1,500 on through StubHub were based on the pre-construction seating configuration at the Fieldhouse. StubHub was able to reassign three of his five tickets to different seats, but StubHub could not contact the original buyers of the other two. Creech’s daughter eventually purchased two new tickets through the vendor. However, her husband was not able to attend the show because she was not able to get him a handicap accessible seat, which he required due to recent foot surgery.
The end result was four out of the five family members attending the show in different seats, plus a couple hundred extra dollars over the original cost.
As frustrating as all that is, Creech said the worst part is that he only knew that the tickets were invalid because he contacted StubHub about finding his son-in-law a handicap seat.
“I didn’t see any news articles about you have to get there early and your tickets aren’t any good anymore, if you bought them from a third party, or however that works,” Creech said. “No one ever contacted us.”
Jaime Schultz story is similar, although it involves even less prior notice. Schultz said she bought two tickets to the Elton John concert. One for her, and one for her father.
“It was very important,” she said. “I bought that for a birthday and retirement gift for my father.”
Schultz’s tickets, which she purchased through SeatGeek, reserved seats in section 116 of the Fieldhouse, one level up from the floor and about halfway back to the left of the stage. Upon arrival at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Friday night, Schultz said she and her father quickly became part of the swarm of confused concertgoers who were trying to figure out why they couldn’t proceed to their seats.
“There were hundreds of us who were clueless on why we weren’t able to enjoy the show,” she said.
About an hour into the show, Schultz and her father were finally seated in section 220, which is located behind the concert stage on the upper level. Not what Schultz had paid for.
“Absolutely blocked view,” she said. “We watched it basically from a monitor way way up high.”
“We understand, this was a big show,” said Pacers Sports & Entertainment spokesperson Danny Lopez Monday. “A lot of people were really excited to come in here and see Elton John. Who wouldn’t be? So we really apologize for people that came in and ran into those issues.”
The concert, originally scheduled for October 2019, was rescheduled several times. Lopez said officials knew in 2021 that renovations were affecting the configuration of the seating bowl at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“We contacted folks in 2021 to let them know that the seats had changed and they needed to come to the box office, they would be sent new tickets that were digital and they should arrive to the show early,” Lopez said.
However, Lopez added that Gainbridge Fieldhouse was only able to contact concertgoers who purchased their tickets through the Gainbridge Fieldhouse box office and Ticketmaster.
“If you purchased on StubHub or another third party, secondary market, we don’t necessarily have your contact information,” he said. “We do now because the technology has changed, but at the time we didn’t really have a way to follow up.”
“If tickets were just transferred, they might have been transferred in 2018 to somebody else,” Lopez added. “Then we’re reliant on the original purchaser to get that email, get that information and transfer it to somebody they might have transferred that ticket to several years ago.”
Schultz and Creech both believe Gainbridge Fieldhouse should have done more to alert ticket holders about the changes to the seating chart when the issues arose in 2021. They said some kind of public announcement could have encouraged those who bought from third-party vendors to check on the status of their seats and make necessary changes before the night of the show.
“There’s all kinds of third-party resale sights out there,” Creech said. “All of them should have worked together and at least notified us of the situation.”
“We’ve been talking pretty regularly for the last couple of years about the Fieldhouse of the Future renovations and how different events are impacted in different ways,” Lopez said in a statement. “However, for this one specifically, we had to make the call, since the overwhelming majority of ticket purchases were not impacted, to not raise a flood of confusion from the broader group. We opted instead to be more direct in our communications, with the exception of messages on social media.”