Just the ticket for fans

St. Louis Park dot-com markets unused tickets

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. -- What happens to all those unused season tickets for sports and theater events?

An Internet startup is trying to become the answer to that question for Twin Cities residents.

Based in St. Louis Park, Club-tix,, is a year-old firm that acts as a liaison between season ticket holders and people who want to attend individual events. It buys tickets from season ticket holders and makes money through membership fees that it charges users.


One customer said the firm can get her great seats, often at the last minute, at reasonable prices. Real-estate agent Heather Dawe used Club-tix to score seats to "The Lion King," the smash theater hit, for a client and her husband last spring.

"They were fabulous seats in the center section, maybe 12 or 15 rows back," Dawe said. "(They) wrote me back with a letter you wouldn't believe. They had just had twins, and the tickets allowed them to have a special night by themselves."

Club-tix was founded by a former corporate concierge, Stephen Filing, and Bill Wilder, who works in the information technology department at Best Buy Co. Though still tiny and unproven, the startup capitalizes on a huge and relatively untapped resource: the unused tickets of season ticket holders.

The firm is making a name for itself by offering access to the kinds of seats usually reserved for corporate tycoons and glitterati. Club-tix aims to establish itself in the Twin Cities first, and then expand to other cities. But it faces plenty of challenges, including a long list of competitors.

But the local firm already has some die-hard fans. Jim Batchelor, another client, said he likes the firm because other resellers of premium tickets charge a markup of two or three times the original price. Club-tix sells tickets at or near face value.

Batchelor, a 37-year-old attorney, said other services charge too much for tickets.

Club-tix charges membership fees ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand, depending on how much the customer plans to use the service. In addition to individuals such as Batchelor and Dawe, Club-tix customers also include prominent local businesses such as the consulting giant Accenture, The Grand Hotel, Amcon Construction, Dayton's Commercial Interiors and Murray's Restaurant &; Cocktail Lounge.

Club-tix buys its ticket inventory from partners Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting), sports teams such as the Minnesota Vikings, and theaters such as Brave New Workshop.


Batchelor has been a Club-tix client since the firm started. He has a "basic" membership, which costs $175 and allows users to buy $1,000 worth of tickets in a year.

"I blew through (my first membership limit) really fast and had to renew," Batchelor said.

The other choices are premium memberships for $365, which carry a limit of $3,000 in annual ticket purchases, and $1,800 corporate memberships with a limit of $10,000.

Filing, the president of Club-tix, said the firm differentiates itself from its rivals through its membership model.

He said most competitors are ticket "brokers" who don't offer memberships but make money through major markups on their tickets.

Also, he said, the Club-tix Web site allows season ticket holders who are selling their tickets to see who is buying their tickets, which is not the case with most ticket brokers.

Club-tix has launched its first advertising push, which includes an ad in "Sports Illustrated" and 50 buses.

Another big challenge for Club-tix is communication, both to potential users and to venues such as sports arenas and theaters.


Club-tix customer Batchelor said he hopes this latter-day dot-com makes it.

He recalls using Club-tix to get tickets to the NCAA regional final last spring, which had special importance to the Wisconsin native.

"I knew that the University of Wisconsin and Marquette might both end up in the regional final," Batchelor said.

"I didn't know both teams had qualified until the last minute. I called Steve, and he was able to get us four seats, all together and in a pretty good spot."

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