With Springsteen back on the road, fans holding floor tickets to North American shows once again are forced to deal with the general admission “lottery” for entry to the show. Saturday night’s show in Pittsburgh showed that tour and venue staff is woefully unprepared to handle the customers who paid $185 each for their floor tickets.
First, the Springsteen staff must be prepared to accommodate a large number of people showing up to participate in the lottery. Their wholly inadequate approach was to provide only one member of the touring staff (who, incidentally, also has other job duties) to handle this process involving 1,500 patrons. This is unacceptable, and the tour did not have its staff properly directing the venue staff regarding how the crowd should be handled. Additionally, the venue did not dedicate an adequately large area to handle the crowd, and had the general admission patrons mixed with other customers attempting to access the box office, will call, pre-show dinners and even reserved seats.
The large number of customers participating in the lottery is no surprise, given that the details were mailed to all customers who had purchased GA floor tickets; had been publicized on Springsteen’s twitter account; facebook page, the venue’s website, and the venue’s twitter account.
Second, if Springsteen’s tour is going to insist on this “lottery” process for entry, they have a responsibility to accommodate all of the customers in the process. This means that after the “winners” are taken into the pit, the remaining customers must be also allowed to enter afterwards in number order.
In Pittsburgh, after the “winners” were let in, a few hundred additional customers were let in, keeping the number order, until Springsteen’s staff and the venue simply decided to not bother with the rest of the customers, telling them that they’d have to just wait until doors opened, at which point the number order was useless. This is disrespectful to the paying customers who followed directions, showed up to participate, and were told that they would be admitted to the venue in number order. It also invites a dangerous free-for-all of persons rushing to get in the venue, as opposed to an orderly process. Not coincidentally, that’s exactly what happened when the doors were eventually opened.
Third, the size of the “pit” should be significantly larger. The security and safety reasons for a barrier on the floor are clear enough: it prevents a crowd of 2,000 persons pushing forward at once. Why that barrier must be placed less than one-fourth of the way back on the floor makes far less sense. Enlarging the pit would allow more than 350 “winners” and make the GA floor tickets a far better value.
It appears that one possible reason for the significantly smaller “pit” than in the past is to facilitate Bruce crowd-surfing from a platform at the back of the pit to the stage during “Hungry Heart.” This gimmick has been used by Bruce since September 2009 and is hardly essential at this point. He would serve his customers far better by allowing them a better chance at getting a good spot at his shows than forcing a smaller pit so he can crowdsurf.