Commerce City lawmaker wants to cut convenience fees for concerts, other ticketed-events

Colorado Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, introduced Senate Bill 072 last month to get rid of convenience fees on sales for entertainment tickets.

Chase N. Cashe on the big stage during Queen City Fest. Aug. 14, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

queen city fest; music; arts; concert; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Chase N. Cashe on the big stage during Queen City Fest. Aug. 14, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) queen city fest; music; arts; concert; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Chase N. Cashe on the big stage during Queen City Fest, Aug. 14, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

This article was updated Monday with information from the Denver Center for Performing Arts.

Bon Jovi lovers could see tickets to his May show in Denver advertised on Stubhub for $37.97 a piece. But the actual cost for the so-called Jovials would be $48.14 after a 27 percent fee charge is included.

For the lesser known band Chicano Batman there’s a 49 percent “service charge” tacked on at checkout on AXS.com, turning tickets to the L.A. Latino band‘s upcoming show at the Bluebird Theater from $15 a piece as advertised online to $22.40.

Even theater lovers aren’t safe from the fees. A $115 front-row ticket to “Motown: The Musical” comes to $132.25 after the Denver Performing Center of Arts’ standard 15 percent service fee is tacked on.

State Sen. Dominick Moreno is skeptical of what the fees are going toward. The Commerce City Democrat introduced Senate Bill 072 last month to get rid of convenience fees on sales for entertainment tickets.

The legislation is expected to face its first round of hurdles Feb. 14 when it goes before the Senate Finance Committee.

District 32 Senator Dominick Moreno. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) legislature; copolitics; politics; legislative session; capitol; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
District 32 Senator Dominick Moreno. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Moreno recently told CBS4, “If you look at the convenience fees they charge, sometimes they will be upwards of 30 percent of the actual ticket value. So I don’t believe for a second that they’re using those to cover those credit card convenience fees. So there’s something else going on here, which I want to get to the bottom of it.”

Moreno’s bill is relatively short (two pages) and boils down to “a seller shall not impose a convenience fee on any sales transaction involving admission to an entertainment event.”

What a “convenience fee” and “entertainment event” are is not defined.

The global ticket merchant AXS website states “service fees generally cover a range of costs associated with the production and ticket operations of the event you are attending. These costs can include but are not limited to: the cost of printing tickets, merchant fees, maintaining the Guest Services Team, and consistently working on delivering the best possible product to you!”

The company, an affiliate of Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz’s Anschutz Entertainment Group, didn’t immediately return an inquiry from Denverite about how fees are set or how the company could be impacted if Moreno’s bill goes through.

A spokesperson at eBay-owned StubHub, another major player in the ticket buying and selling game, said, “We’re not commenting on this story at this time, until there is more clarity on the bill.”

The spokesperson declined to immediately comment on how fees are set up or where the money goes saying, “Happy to explain but would prefer to do so in the context of an article that we are commenting on. Let’s chat once we know more about this bill.”

Closer to home, the president and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Janice Sinden told CBS4 “our back would be against the wall, essentially,” if Moreno’s legislation passed. The organizations reportedly uses the money from fees to support the education of tens of thousands of students each year.

DCPA switched to a standard 15 percent fee on ticket sales in 2014.

“Prior to 2014, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts included services fees that were different according to different theatres in which we performed, which caused confusion among our patrons,” said Suzanne Yoe, director of communications and cultural affairs.

The service charge covers the cost of selling tickets and includes credit card fees, fees to license a third party ticketing provider, servers to host the ticketing provider, email service to deliver tickets electronically, ticket agents to sell, seat and process all orders and robust ticket review to ensure that individuals do not abuse the policies put in place to restrict secondary ticket brokers.

“We do not include our ticket fees in our base price for two reasons,” Yoe said. First, to stay as transparent as possible to patrons. Second, because a portion of DCPA’s base ticket price on Broadway touring shows is paid to Broadway producers. The producers are not entitled to a portion of the hard cost to sell a ticket.

According to DCPA’s website, fees are waived when people buy their tickets in-person. Other venues in Colorado also waive fees for people who head to the box office.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and on the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.