bad bunnys concert in mexico sold out but many ticket holders were turned away

The concert was supposed to be one of Mexico’s largest, sold out months before. Instead, one of the world’s biggest stars played to a half empty floor.

MEXICO CITY — As Bad Bunny, one of the world’s hottest pop stars, floated on a palm tree crooning to adoring fans for what was supposed to be one of Mexico City’s largest concerts ever, the stadium floor was far from jam-packed.

But outside, thousands were trying to get in, some scaling the stadium fence after their tickets — many valid and purchased directly from Ticketmaster — were rejected as fakes by malfunctioning scanning machines. While the stadium’s upper seating areas appeared full, the sold-out stadium’s floor was half empty.

The fiasco prompted Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to condemn Ticketmaster this week, demanding the company reimburse valid ticket holders. The president said it made him emotional to see so many fans rejected from the concert and asked Bad Bunny to return to Mexico and play for free.

Bad Bunny has yet to speak about the ticketing problems in Mexico City.

Ticketmaster’s troubles are nothing new — the ticketing giant was forced to halt public sales for Taylor Swift’s latest tour after soaring demand for presale tickets crashed the computer system and tickets were resold at markups of tens of thousands of dollars. But in poorer countries like Mexico, more is at stake for many fans.

The country’s median monthly income is much lower than in the United States and even lawyers make as little as $1,000 a month.

Yet Bad Bunny tickets were being sold for up to $900 by scalpers who had snatched them up, evading the company’s attempts to prevent a secondary sales market run by scalpers charging exorbitant markups, as happened with Ms. Swift’s show.

A group of Ms. Swift’s fans has since sued Ticketmaster over the botched sales, accusing its parent company of fraud.

Bad Bunny, who has played sold-out shows across Latin America and the United States, is this year’s highest-grossing touring artist, according to Boxscore. The artist’s World’s Hottest Tour broke records for gross ticket sales in 12 of the 15 U.S. markets it played in over 2022 — including New York City — and last weekend’s show in Mexico City was the tour’s last stop, before the artist announced plans to take a break next year.

But many people were denied entry to his show after they had saved large portions of their salaries to buy tickets, others dipping into their savings.

While hundreds, possibly thousands of fans were turned away because they had bought bogus tickets, more than 1,600 others who said they had purchased tickets directly from Ticketmaster were denied entry, according to the Mexican authorities, who are still collecting complaints from disappointed purchasers.

It appeared that Ticketmaster’s scanning machines at the stadium malfunctioned and could not read the valid tickets, the company said Monday.

Andrea Mancilla Cabrera

Mariam Rodríguez Luna, a 22 year-old veterinary student, had camped out the day before the Friday concert, clutching a ticket she said she had bought directly from Ticketmaster for 14,000 pesos, about $700. She and a friend had pitched a tent on the premises of the Azteca stadium, just south of the capital, so they could be first in line when the doors opened and get as close as possible to the stage.

When Ms. Rodríguez and her friend handed their tickets over to be scanned on Friday afternoon, gate agents said they were fake. After they protested and pulled up their Ticketmaster accounts on their phones to show their purchase, they were told to file a complaint directly with the company.

But their emails and calls to Ticketmaster on Friday night went unanswered. After six hours of waiting to get in, the crowd turned unruly, Ms. Rodríguez said, which is when she and her friend decided to leave.

It “was a very ugly scandal, because a lot of people were obviously crying and it was very stressful,” Ms. Rodríguez said. “The police also began to treat everyone very badly. They started hitting people.”

Mexico’s consumer protection watchdog, known as Profeco, has called for Ticketmaster to reimburse valid ticket holders who were denied entry the full cost of their ticket, plus a 20 percent compensation fee. Ticketmaster agreed to the agency’s demands.

Profeco has collected more than 1,600 refund requests so far and is preparing a lawsuit against the ticketing giant, which could be fined millions of dollars.

Ticketmaster defended itself in a statement on Monday, saying that an “unprecedented number of fake tickets” were purchased from unofficial vendors as 4.5 million people across Mexico tried to purchase Bad Bunny tickets, the “highest number in the history of the country.” Those fake tickets, the company said, ended up creating a malfunction in their system at the entrances to the stadium last weekend. And that, it said, led to some valid tickets being rejected.

Isaac Esquivel/EPA, via Shutterstock

“It’s important to emphasize that there was no overcrowding or overselling of tickets,” the statement added.

But the company acknowledged earlier that an unspecified number of valid tickets had been ripped up and the purchasers denied entry to the Azteca stadium because of their system malfunction. The stadium is one of Mexico’s largest with a capacity of nearly 90,000.

The head of Profeco also took aim at Ticketmaster’s monopoly on ticket sales in Mexico, something U.S. lawmakers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have also complained about, vowing to break the company up.

Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican artist born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, is known for his eccentric style, feminist lyrics and reggaeton beats infused with the Caribbean sounds of salsa and mambo and is known to pour his heart into his shows. It is not just an evening of entertainment, it is an experience: Aerial videos from recent concerts show crowds jumping so hard in unison that they look like they are in a giant wave pool at a water park while flame throwers go off around them.

Not all of his Mexican fans were unlucky last weekend.

Claudia Murillo, 38, took her 8-year-old son to the show and said it took about an hour to get in. Ms. Murillo, a medical device consultant, was disappointed that she had been booted from the Ticketmaster website last spring when she tried to line up online to buy tickets when they were officially released.

After losing her place on Ticketmaster’s website, she ended up buying tickets from a scalper for 9,000 pesos each, about $455, three times the official price.

On Friday night, she and her son had to push through a crowd of angry people to get to the entrance.

“A girl behind me started to pray as we saw all these people walking toward the exit, angry and shouting that they had been denied,” Ms. Murillo said. “The girl was saying, ‘God, I have never asked you for anything. If there is one thing I ask you for in my life is to get into this concert.’”

When Ms. Murillo and her son finally entered the stadium they discovered a half empty floor.

Ms. Rodriguez, who works jobs as a night guard and in a veterinary clinic, said she has been told that she will be reimbursed the cost of her ticket, which she had to use her savings to pay for. But she recalls meeting another Bad Bunny fan amid the chaos last week, who had traveled to the capital from over 600 miles away from the Mexican city of Torreon. That fan, Ms. Rodriguez said, will never recoup all the money she spent on hotels, flights and accommodation to attend a concert she never got into.

Many people saved their salaries and “wanted to spend it on an experience that was important to them,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “I paid so much, for nothing.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *