VIP Seats, Buying & Selling Tickets

Best Sporting Event Promotional Giveaways

by vipseats May 31, 2012 20:11

By Alex Szczesny, Marketing Director

Who doesn’t love free stuff?

It doesn’t matter if an object is useful or not, if it’s free, it’s for me! As a way to boost attendance over a long season, sports teams give away lots of promotional items.  Often times, they give things away to the “first 10,000 fans” or something to that extent.  It may not be fair to fan #10,001, but after the last pitch/whistle, you can find more than your fair share of discarded or forgotten collectables.  In honor of “Angels Cowboy Hat Night” where they will attempt to break a world record of people wearing the headwear, here’s my list of the Top 5 Best Promotional Giveaways.

5. Rally Towels/Thunder Stix/Pom-Poms/Signs etc. – It may not be the most expensive handout, but there is nothing like watching a crowd of 20,000 swing their pom-poms or rally towels in unison.  It’s almost hypnotic to watch and often gives you a cool keepsake to take home.  For the most part, my pom-poms hit the trash, but I do keep the rally towels or signs given to me at a game.  It’s a nice memory, especially if they were made for the occasion and have the date/game/opponent marked somewhere on them.  It’s always nice uncovering a forgotten memento that you clung onto so tight during a tense game… if they win that is!

4. Clothing Items – Free T-shirts are becoming more common nowadays as teams often try the “whiteout” effect or experiment with other colors like the “Orange Crush” you often see in Philly for Flyers playoff games.  Shirts are great and a very functional piece of swag, but often times they find their way to the back of my drawers or worn to bed because of their XXL sizes.  Hats on the other hand are a great item to receive AND something you will more than likely use often.  They may not be the best quality and you may find some company’s logo or ad plastered over the side, but free hats look fashionable enough to wear time and again.  In rare cases, some teams give away special items like jerseys, jackets, or gloves, but often times in limited quantities.  You can never go wrong with free clothes sporting your favorite team’s logo.

3. Baseballs/Soccer Balls/Pucks – As a hockey addict and collector, nothing made me happier as a kid than a free puck at the Aud in Buffalo.  I would take it home and stare at it remembering the game I just saw or slide it across the rug pretending I was my favorite superstars like Pat LaFontaine and Steve Yzerman.  Of course the times are a changin’ as some bad apples who wanted to disrupt play have made a “Free Baseball Night” nearly a thing of the past.  There is something just fun about getting a free ball or puck.  It’s nice to collect as a keepsake or toss around the yard for fun.  It doesn’t matter how old I get, handouts like this always make me feel like a kid.  It will be a special day when I can bring my own kid to the game and watch them be in amazement over their new puck much like I was.

2. Bobbleheads – The quintessential giveaway that pleases fans from young to old.  A bobblehead is that unique giveaway that people cannot get enough of.  Really, what is a bobblehead? It’s just a figurine whose head sits on a spring that serves no other purpose.  That being said, how awesome is it to get one or build your own collection.  The brand new Marlins Ballpark opened the first ever “Bobblehead Museum” (above) just to honor the timeless handout.  Mostly associated with baseball, “Bobblehead Day” gets circled on everyone’s schedule at the start of the season. 

1. Unusual Items – This catch-all category might be the easy way out to end this list, but often times the strangest items are the most memorable.  This can be anything as functional as a team calendar, magnetic schedule or even a bottle opener to something as strange as Coco Crisp Chia Pet Day (sadly a real thing June 17th in Oakland).  To me, the less functional an item, the better the giveaway.  Anyone can get a set of commemorative coins but it is infinitely cooler to get Joe Mauer sideburns (also real, check out the full list of odd items here).  The greatest items are ones that honor the past.  My favorite of all time happens to be my replica of the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium I got last year at a Buffalo Bisons game.  It looks great and sits on my desk and is a good way to remember the sports history of my city.

Everybody loves free stuff! Memorable promotional giveaways live on in attics, office desks or collectors cases for years and years to come.  The good ones are displayed on shelves and admired, while the bad ones end up in the trash and forgotten.  For most fans, free handouts are not “make or break” reasons to go to the ballpark, but rather a nice perk to reward your loyal supporters.  Every season brings new memories to fans in the form of not only the action on the field, but the keepsake they get to take home. 

You’ve Won American Idol! Now What?

by vipseats May 24, 2012 19:30

By Alex Szczesny, Marketing Director

With record audiences tuning in each year, American Idol remains a force on TV.  Ratings may have dwindled, but Idol’s impact on music and pop culture remain at an all-time high.  American Idol is reality television at its best, with the rare chance to stay in touch with your favorites long after the show ends.  After someone wins “Survivor,” they largely disappear and nobody remembers them.  That said, with all eyes on the winner, American Idol is supposed to be a springboard into superstardom, but most winners find themselves swimming in the shallow end.

There will of course be highs and lows for any performer, and the show’s format never guaranteed fame and fortune.  Perhaps we were spoiled off the bat by the run of Kelly Clarkson.  At a time where the competition was new and fresh, Kelly Clarkson took the world by storm.  She remains one of the most successful winners of the show, picking up 2 major Grammy Awards for “Best Female Pop Vocal” and “Best Pop Album.”  Like it or not, Clarkson’s success remains the benchmark for other Idol champions. 

The only other American Idol winner to match and even surpass Kelly Clarkson’s fame was season 4 winner Carrie Underwood.  A staple on the radio and in magazines, one can argue that Underwood is the show’s best product.  Underwood has taken home 5 Grammy awards and is one of the most talked about celebrities around. 

Outside of Clarkson and Underwood, most Idol winners have a successful song or two following their run on the show, then fade into obscurity often times.  Ruben Studdard won the second season of Idol and even earned a Grammy nomination for “Best R&B Performance.”  Studdard has moved largely into Soul music and has been out of the spotlight for some time.  In season 3, winner Fantasia Barrino looked like she would follow in the footsteps of Studdard rather than the critically acclaimed Clarkson.  It wasn’t until Barrino appeared in “The Color Purple” on Broadway in 2007 that her career started to pick up serious momentum.  Fantasia has not been a successful pop artist, but she did pick up a Grammy in 2011 for “Best R&B Vocal Performance.”

After Underwood’s win in season 4, hopes remained high for the future.  Up to this point, all four winners looked like megastars.  Soon the show would lose steam.  Idol would lose popularity despite its high ratings.  Season 5 produced Taylor Hicks, the soulful singer who didn’t look like he fit the bill.  Hicks looked much older than all of his cast mates because of his gray hair.  Hicks looked and sounded like no Idol winner before him.  It was no surprise that Hicks amounted to little success.  Season 6’s champ, Jordin Sparks has experienced some success post-Idol.  Sparks has won an American Music Award, People’s Choice Award, a Teen Choice Award and she picked up a Grammy nom.  Her most successful song “No Air” featuring Chris Brown, can still be heard all over the radio today!

This is the point where faithful Idol fans have a little bit of fun.  From Season 7, going through to last night’s finale, Idol fans have dubbed this latest group of winners “White Guys With Guitars.”  So far, little has been heard from the group of David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, and Scotty McCreery.  Each has charted a song or two immediately following their win, but not much else.

The winner of American Idol may not have even been the best performer, as evidenced by the overwhelming success of past Idol contestants.  One may even argue that it doesn’t matter if you win or not, just making it to the “Top 12” is the only platform you need to launch a big career.  Names like Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee, prove you don’t need to place 1st to really “win.”

Each year the American Idols Live Tour is one of the best of the summer.  The stars of tomorrow, fresh off their TV appearances cross the country to greet their loyal fans.  It’s also a treat for the concert-goer to see their favorites and even some stars of tomorrow.  While Idol winners may not win all the awards or rack up the accolades, their impact on pop culture and the music scene is undeniable.

Quick Reference: American Idols Live! Tickets, Kelly Clarkson Tickets, Carrie Underwood Tickets

Van Halen Cancels July 17th Rochester Show

by vipseats May 18, 2012 18:14

Go figure!  Just hours after our Top 10 WNY Concerts post, the #10 show on the list will not be taking place.  Van Halen announced yesterday that they will be ending their tour and not playing any of their scheduled shows after June 26th.  With the band's rocky past, many are speculating as to the cause of the postponement.  No official word yet from the band.  Refunds will be given at the places of purchase.  If you bought seats from VIP Seats, please contact us at 1-800-371-6323.

Tags: , , ,

Summer 2012’s Top Ten Concerts in Western New York

by vipseats May 17, 2012 20:37

By Alex Szczesny, Marketing Director

With the cold weather (hopefully) in the rear view mirror, the sun shining on a regular basis, and the kids getting ready to leave school for the year, it’s official; summer has begun in Western New York.  Darien Lake Theme Park recently opened for the year, your local ice cream stand is back in business and everyone in the greater Buffalo and Rochester areas are looking for any excuse to get out and enjoy the weather.

Once again, the summer concert season is loaded with amazing bands and artists from every genre.  No matter what your tastes, there is something for you in the next few months!  At VIP Seats, we wanted to put together a handy ranking of what we feel are the Top Ten shows you need to see this year.

Honorable Mention – Dave Matthews Band at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Tuesday July 3rd – DMB is coming back to Darien for what is becoming an almost annual appearance.  Dave fans always pack the Performing Arts Center and make this one of the best shows at the theme park. Buy Tickets

Taste of Country fet. Eric Chruch, Eli Young Band & Joe Nichols at Coca-Cola Field, Friday June 1st – Another annual concert tradition in Buffalo sponsored by 106.5 WYRK, brings many up and coming artists to the ballpark.  TONS of country singers provide nonstop entertainment.  In addition to the “bigger” names, fans are exposed to rising stars of tomorrow! Buy Tickets

10. Van Halen at Blue Cross Arena, Tuesday July 17th – For those in Rochester that missed VH’s show at First Niagara Center in March, the band will play again, this time 65 miles down I-90.  The band received rave reviews for their first appearance in WNY and they are sure to not disappoint their second time around.  Sure, this isn’t an outdoor show, but you never know how many times more Van Halen will be touring!!! Buy Tickets

9. Blake Shelton at Erie County Fairgrounds, Thursday August 16th – Coming off his duties as a judge on NBC’s smash hit “The Voice,” Blake Shelton brings his talents to the Hamburg Fairgrounds.  What’s great about shows at the Fair is not only the fried dough, but the intimate setting as well!  The fairgrounds do not sit too many people, so there isn’t a bad seat in the house!!! Buy Tickets

8. Kelly Clarkson and The Fray at Constellation Brands Performing Arts Center, Wednesday August 29th -  The multiple Grammy winner and original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, is coming to CMAC in Canandaigua and she’s bringing some friends.  The Fray is accompanying Clarkson on her upcoming tour and this will want to be a show you won’t want to miss!  The sound at CMAC is amazing and you are sure to be treated to all your favorites by both artists!  Buy Tickets

7. Drake, J. Cole & Waka Flocka Flame at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Friday June 8th – The hottest hip hop show of the summer kicks off the summer concert season at Darien Lake.  With a triple bill of some of the hottest acts, this will surely be a tough act to follow for the rest of the concerts taking place at Darien Lake PAC!  Buy Tickets

6. Fresh Beat Band at Constellation Brands Performing Arts Center, Sunday September 2nd – If you have a child under 13 in the house, you are more than likely all too aware of the Fresh Beat Band.  From the incredibly popular kids program on Nick Jr, the Fresh Beat Band has been a HUGE tour all across the country.  This would be an awesome treat for your children before they head back to school!  Buy Tickets

5. KISS & Motley Crue at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Saturday September 15th – Ok, well this one may not be the “summer season” but this is still one of the hottest tours around in 2012.  These two 80’s rock staples have joined forces and will provide an amazing night with incredible live performances.  Both groups have extremely loyal fans so tickets for this show may be hard to get!!! Buy Tickets

4. Roger Waters at First Niagara Center, Thursday June 21st – This show was announced so long ago, it may have been lost in the shuffle amid the more recent concert announcements in WNY.  Rogers Waters is once again bringing his amazing live performance to downtown Buffalo.  This one should be on your calendar for sure even though most people prefer to be outdoors for a BIG summer show.  Buy Tickets

3. Sting at Artpark Mainstage, Tuesday June 12th – The legendary Sting will be performing rain or shine at Artpark in beautiful Lewiston.  Sting has slowed down his touring schedule as of later so there aren’t too many chances to see him live.  If you haven’t seen a show at Artpark, you don’t know what you are missing!!!  Great, close seating and beautiful scenery will make this an intimate performance with one of music’s icons!  Buy Tickets

2. Nickelback, Bush, Seether & My Darkest Days at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Wednesday July 25th – Darien Lake Theme Park will be rocking from the Viper to the Ride of Steel when these bands take the stage.  Nickelback is arguably the most popular band in the world today and they always draw a crowd.  Their ability to have popular songs for on rock, pop and adult contemporary radio means just about everyone will want to see this show!!!  One of the top outdoor tours for 2012, that’s for sure! Buy Tickets

1. Big Time Rush at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Thursday August 9th – One of the most popular groups of the past year will be bringing their incredible live show to Darien Lake as Big Time Rush takes the stage in August.  These teen sensations have played to sold out venues for more than a year now.  Big Time Rush is one of the most popular sellers at VIP Seats.  BTR is also one of the few summer tours where Meet and Greet passes are easier to obtain.  Teens will want to see and talk with their favorite group and the guys are going out of their way to hang out with their most passionate fans.  This will probably be the most popular and crazy show of the summer!  Buy Tickets

There are almost too many good shows to mention.  Both indoors and out, big venues or smaller ones, there is probably something out there for you!  All across Western New York, the summer season will be rocking with amazing performances.  You know how quickly the weather can change, so it’s important to make the most of the high temps while you can!  If you have a question or a certain artist you are dying to see, please give us a call and let one of our ticket specialists help you create memories that last a lifetime!


Quick Reference: Buffalo NY Events, Rochester NY Events, Toronto ON Events, Darien Lake Concerts, CMAC Concerts, Artpark Events

Teaching an Old Dog, New Tricks: How Sports Teams are Using Technology to Boost Season Ticket Sales

by vipseats May 9, 2012 19:09

By Alex Szczesny, Marketing Director


Season ticket holders are used to a few perks that most fans don’t get.  In addition to lower prices per game, teams usually give some sort of merchandise or exclusive memorabilia to their loyal customers as a “thank you” for spending their hard earned money.  Many factors however, have contributed to smaller season ticket bases on average for the four major sports leagues.

Rising season ticket prices, teamed with a struggling economy have most people watching their favorite teams from home rather than in the arenas nationwide.  Some people cannot justify spending thousands on a season ticket package along with their other expenses in today’s world.  The secondary ticket market is also a good alternative for people who don’t have the dollars to spend on a full schedule or people who have the time to attend every event.  Instead of signing up for an 82 game hockey and basketball season, people are picking out the few games they want to see and getting seats from the box office or ticket companies such as

What can teams offer to bring people back?  How can an organization make it worthwhile for someone to spend that entertainment dollar on themselves instead of a big TV to watch every game from their living room? The obvious answer is of course, winning.  Winning cures all ills, so they say, but a championship team cannot be built at the snap of someone’s finger…

Two teams, Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL, and the Detroit Pistons of the NBA, have resorted to cutting edge technology to lure people back as season ticket holders.  At the beginning of the 2011-12 season and coinciding with the release of their new jerseys, the Lightning included a microchip in the sleeve every new jersey they gave free to each season ticket holder.  This microchip provides the ticket holder with exclusive discounts at merchandise and concession stands.  The Detroit Pistons will incorporate the new technology into team track jackets for the upcoming 2012-13 season.

The initial response was overwhelmingly positive for the Bolts.  In addition to outfitting the most loyal fans with a new jersey (no small giveaway for sure), the fan could customize it with ANY name and number on the back, plus receive discounts all around Tampa Bay Times Forum.  The microchip idea, aided by Tampa’s success the previous season, doubled the season ticket base from nearly 5,000 to 11,000.  The Pistons potential growth in ticket numbers remains to be seen.  Also, the Bolts were one period away from the Stanley Cup Finals while the Pistons finished 10 games out of the playoffs.

If the Pistons success comes anywhere near that of the Lightning, perhaps more organizations will use this new technology to give season ticket holders an incentive to keep their business with the team.  Getting a large item like a jacket or even a jersey sure beats smaller, cheaper giveaways like a picture or bumper sticker.  Throw in the discounts and it’s becoming more attractive than ever to buy a season package.  It never hurts to try something new and these two teams could be pioneers in rewarding their loyal fans. 

MLB Teams Struggling to Find Balance with Secondary Ticket Market

by vipseats May 1, 2012 20:31

By: Alexander Szczesny, Marketing Director

In today’s world, the secondary ticket market is widely accepted and has become commonplace for consumers looking for exclusive seats for sports, concerts, or theater events.  Of course, this was not always the case as when VIP Seats was formed.  Back in 1993, any resale of tickets was considered taboo and only associated with scalpers on the corner of a street. 

As times changed and the internet brought the global economy to new grounds, new marketplaces began to form that allowed the buying and selling of seats for any event imaginable.  At the forefront of all of this was the San Francisco Company, StubHub.  Stubhub is the largest ticket resale marketplace on the internet today. 

A few years ago, Major League Baseball teamed up with Stubhub to promote easy ticket resale for both buyers and sellers.  In addition to MLB, Stubhub has affiliations with other pro sports teams and venues such as the Buffalo Sabres and First Niagara Center.  On the surface, the MLB-Stubhub relationship should seem fine, but each organization in the league has different feelings about the secondary ticket market.  Some enjoy the ability to pack the house and sell more merchandise etc. while others have issues with unsold or undersold seats.

The unique facet of the ticket resale business is the ability to set the price of a seat based off the day of the week, quality of opponent, or even promotional giveaways.  At first, teams did not like all the money that was made over box office prices, essentially money left on the table and into the pockets of resellers and not the teams themselves.   Several teams in all major sports implemented some sort of variable pricing (different prices for different games/opponents) in order to increase profits. 

Teams now have a problem selling tickets for mid-week games, often against weak opponents because the secondary market can offer similar seats for a fraction of the price. “Sports teams or promoters can’t have their cake and eat it too!” says Nick Giammusso, president of VIP Seats.   “They cry foul (excuse the pun) when they lose revenue by underpricing their tickets and they sell in the secondary market for 5 times face price.” Giammusso adds, “On the flip side, they complain when they over price the early games and they’re losing revenue when the consumer has a better option to buy from the secondary market rather than the box office.”

Last minute buyers are often left with the decision of paying $45 from the box office or picking up the same thing online for $20. MLB Teams, such as the New York Yankees are trying to pressure Stubhub into a minimum seat price in order to assure a few more sales of tickets from the box office.

Numbers show season ticket sales up across the board as people often list extra games for sale online.  These teams do not argue about moving more season packages to ticket brokers or fans with an entrepreneurial edge. They will instead blame weak sales of single games on the secondary market, or roll out pricing structures that make it difficult for a family of 4 to enjoy a simple night out.  Giammusso has a simple message for teams at odds with the secondary market; “Be fair and let the market decide ticket prices on the secondary side of things. Any pricing restrictions usually hurt the average fan.”

Tags: , , , ,