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Will Grateful Dead Tickets Get Cheaper or Pricier as Show Nears?

By David Matthews | March 11, 2015 5:46am | Updated on March 11, 2015 9:17am
 Deadheads at a 2009 show in Greensboro, N.C.
Deadheads at a 2009 show in Greensboro, N.C.
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Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

SOLDIER FIELD — Scalpers drew gasps from Deadheads when tickets to the Grateful Dead's farewell shows over Fourth of July weekend hit the Internet at sky-high prices.

They're also drawing buyers.

Resold tickets to the Grateful Dead's summer blowout at Soldier Field have fetched an average of $952 so far on TickPick, a New York-based online ticket marketplace. One scalper's three-day pass up in Soldier Field's 300 level sold for $3,270 through the website, while single-day seats throughout Soldier Field sold from $769 to $1,300. 

While not representative of the total resale market, TickPick's data shows scalpers are profiting nicely from healthy markups on the prices the Dead was asking their fans before tickets sold out earlier this year. The Dead tickets' face value ranged between $194 and $623 for three-day passes, and single-day passes from $72 to $215. 

David Matthews says ticket demand is still high:

The Dead clearly priced their tickets in an attempt to make their "last shows" accessible to their passionate fans, said TickPick data analyst Jackson Riso. But by underestimating demand, the legendary jam band has now risked leaving many true fans at the mercy of scalpers capitalizing off the limited supply of available tickets.

Though just 24 Dead tickets have sold so far off TickPick, many more Deadheads are setting price alerts well below what sellers on the website are now asking, hoping for discounts that likely will never be offered. As of Tuesday, the average listing price for the hundreds of Dead tickets listed was $1,995 on TickPick.

"The Grateful Dead intentionally sold their tickets for much less than what Deadheads were willing to pay, creating an upward pressure on secondary market prices," Riso said.

So what now?

Though asking prices for Dead tickets are now higher than what many Chicagoans pay in rent, there's good reason to believe the scalpers' prices will drop. 

One reason: Soldier Field officials confirmed fans can tailgate at the Dead's shows at Soldier Field without a ticket. The Grateful Dead is also discussing potential public watch parties with the Chicago Park District for those shut out of the shows. 

There's also precedent. Ticket resale prices usually drop as event dates near. Even at the Super Bowl:

Super Bowl ticket prices fell leading up to gameday five of the last six years. Illustration by Jackson Riso. 

Still, there will be a Super Bowl every year. For once-in-a-lifetime events, like the Grateful Dead's last shows together, ticket prices might be more unpredictable.

"My gut says ticket [prices] are going to go down," Riso said. "But what we've seen with big events that people go nuts over, it's honestly impossible to tell."

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