Houston rodeo under fire after massive ticket sales flop

By Cathy Hernandez - Reporter, Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - Tickets for the 2019 Houston Rodeo went on sale Thursday at 10 a.m., but many people are waking up Friday morning upset and ticketless.

Users were asked to sign in to a virtual waiting room starting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in order to get in line for the concert of their choice, but many were not allowed to buy the tickets they wanted, saying the online sales process was too difficult.

Buyers were chosen at random for their turn to buy their tickets, but many people, including KPRC2 consumer expert Amy Davis, waited several hours just to get a message that their session timed out and they were kicked off the page before they could get their tickets.

By the time Davis and other frustrated buyers were able to get back into the sales page, popular concerts like George Strait, Chris Stapleton and Cardi B were sold out.

According to rodeo officials, the high demand for tickets slowed the system down.

“Unfortunately for the George Strait tickets performance, there were 30,000 people in the waiting room for 18,000 tickets,” said Joel Cowley, president of the Houston Rodeo. “In the case of Cardi B, there were 12,000 people for a little over 14,000 tickets, so certainly not all of those customers were able to buy tickets for these shows.”

Officials with the rodeo also said they had several issues with ticket robots (or “bots") and ticket scalpers. At one point they even had to shut down one of their main servers, which booted users in that server out, forcing them to start the process over.

“Any individuals who were on that server were also bumped out of the system temporarily,” Cowley said. “Now, if they closed down their browser and logged back in, the system would remember their IP address so they were placed back in the waiting room. But I’ll tell you, in the case of Cardi B, if that happened the tickets were probably gone by the time that they did that, so that unfortunate.”

Now, tickets for the sold-out concerts are only available on the resale market for much higher prices.

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