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Comcast Gets Into Arena Ticketing Game

Comcast Corp.’s latest competitive move involves replacing Ticketmaster in some hometown venues.

Last week, the biggest U.S. cable company said it had created a new venture called ComcastTIX that will handle ticket sales for all events at the Wachovia Center and Wachovia Spectrum in Philadelphia and at three other arenas in the city and in New Jersey.

The venture brings together several Comcast-owned assets, including the two Philly arenas, which are owned by its Comcast-Spectacor unit. That venture also owns the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League team and the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association.

The first events for which ComcastTIX handled ticket sales were individual Flyers games, which went on sale on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Comcast-Spectacor also owns New Era Tickets, which sold 6 million tickets to events nationwide last year, according to the company.

IAC/InterActiveCorp.-owned Ticketmaster’s exclusive arrangement with the Wachovia Center and Wachovia Spectrum runs out on Oct. 2, and ComcastTIX takes over there on Oct. 3, Comcast-Spectacor spokesman Ike Richman said.

He said Comcast sees the service as a local branding opportunity, and said officials expect to charge ticket fees similar to what TicketMaster had assessed.

Part of New Era’s service to other venues, including the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, is to allow the arena to brand the ticket service locally. When consumers call to buy tickets to a Wells Fargo Arena event, those tickets are sold as Dahl’s Tickets, after a local supermarket chain that bought the rights, Richman said. ComcastTIX is an extension of that service.

Also signing up with ComcastTIX are Temple University’s Liacouras Center, the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J., and the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, N.J. “We’re more of a localized service,” Richman said.

Comcast indicated it would offer “triple-play” customers who buy cable, Internet and phone service VIP-style early access to events at the ComcastTIX venues. And Richman said plans are in the works to let ticket buyers also pre-pay for parking, food and merchandise, with the credits worked into bar codes the consumers can print on their home computers.

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