'Hamilton' tickets in Denver: Don't get scammed on Monday

Mathenee Treco, Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal & Michael Luwoye - HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus

From left: Aurora native and Eaglecrest High School graduate Mathenee Treco with Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal and Michael Luwoye in the ‘Hamilton’ national touring cast. Tickets for the Denver engagement go on-sale Jan. 22. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Here’s how to make your ticket-buying experience go smoothly when Hamilton tickets go on sale Jan. 22

By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist

Monday will be a historic day in Colorado theatre when single tickets go onsale for the Denver run of Hamilton, one of the most honored and rapturously received musicals in Broadway history. Denver Center officials are expecting consumer interest to be akin to that of a Denver Broncos playoff game.

But along with passionate theatergoers, the Hamilton ticket sale promises to also attract third-party ticket brokers hoping to scoop up tickets and re-sell them for well above face value — which for most tickets in Denver will not exceed $165 on the Jan. 22 on-sale date.

Re-selling sports and entertainment tickets is big business. How big? according to Northcoast Research, it’s a $5 billion annual industry. They do it by using “bot” technology that can access legit online ticket providers such as denvercenter.org and essentially replicate human behavior. By the thousands. And with super-human speed.

JohnEkebergHAMILTONQUOTE“This is a worldwide problem,” said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway. “The bigger the show, the bigger the problem.”

And shows don’t get any bigger than Hamilton. With tickets going on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 22, this is both “buyer beware” and “buyer be aware” time for all potential consumers, whether you choose to buy tickets in person, on the phone or online.

“We have safeguards in place to try to keep tickets in the hands of those people who actually want to attend our performances,” said Yovani Pina, DCPA Vice President of Information Technology. But he and his team are in an endless race against technological advances that help secondary brokers get their hands on tickets.

Those safeguards include limiting purchases to four tickets per account so if the brokers win, they don’t win as much as they might have won before. “Anti-bot” technologies have been implemented to prevent bots from obtaining tickets. Another safeguard: The Denver Center does not allow a single credit-card to be used from multiple computers.

But perhaps the biggest new weapon in the good guys’ toolbox is a service called “Queue It.” That’s a virtual waiting room that guarantees your place in line, and lets you know in real time how long it will be before it is your turn to buy. “We will even let those folks know that they can either stay on the site or we will let them know via email that it’s their turn,” said Pina.

No matter how long you have been purchasing your theatre tickets from denvercenter.org, this will be a whole new consumer experience. The “Queue It” service will help ensure a smooth patron experience when purchasing tickets online.

Here’s how it works:

Visit hamilton.denvercenter.org between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan 22. You will find yourself in a virtual waiting room. At 10 a.m., you and everyone else in the virtual waiting room will be assigned a random place in line. (And then any latecomers who join after 10 a.m. will be placed, in order, at the back of the line.)

Hamilton Virtual Waiting RoomOnce your place in line is randomly assigned (see example pictured at right), your place in line is secure. If and when you reach the front of the line before Monday’s allotment of tickets are claimed, you will have 15 minutes to complete your transaction.

“The whole point of this new system is to ensure that the patron purchasing experience online is as smooth and as efficient as possible,” Pina said.

Now here’s perhaps the best news for legit Hamilton-loving customers: After Monday’s available tickets are gone and the sale is over, the DCPA has committed to reviewing every single online purchase for its legitimacy before any sale is final. That part of the process is essentially a cleansing of the list of unfairly bought tickets.

“We will be looking for different indicators of purchase behavior that violates our ticket policy,” Ekeberg said. Any and all transactions that are detected to be “bot” purchases will be canceled without further consideration. Also: Any patrons who create duplicate accounts with the intention of purchasing more than four tickets per account will also find their orders canceled.

“We want to reassure people that we are doing everything we can to make this as fair as possible,” Ekeberg said. 

If you do not make it to the front of the virtual line by the time Monday’s allotment of tickets are gone, an announcement will appear in the waiting room that says, “This Event Has Ended.” But if that happens to you, do not despair: Before every performance, there will be a lottery for 40 $10 orchestra seats. That’s 1,500 lucky people who will see Hamilton in Denver from great seats — and for only 10 bucks each. Details will be announced closer to the Feb. 27 opening.

Here are more helpful tips, useful background information and answers to some of your anticipated questions, not only to help you from being scammed on Monday, but also to help you make your purchasing experience go as smoothly as possible:

Five helpful tips to make your Monday go better:

NUMBER 1 This is big: If you have not created a ticket-buying account on denvercenter.org, do it before Monday. Heck, do it right now. Here’s where to do it. Fill out all your information now, so that if you make it to the front of the virtual line on Monday, your transaction will go that much faster. (And those behind you in line will thank you for it.)

If you already have a Denver Center account, know your username and password. Test it today so that you won’t have any trouble purchasing tickets quickly on Monday. If you are unsure of your username and password, please call the box office at 303-893-4100 no later than 5 p.m. on Jan. 21 to ensure a smooth login process on Monday.

Also: Look up your account information and write it all down in a secured, secondary place so if you need that information on Monday, you will have it handy — on a device separate from your computer.

NUMBER 2This one is even bigger: The Denver Center’s web site at hamilton.denvercenter.org is the only authorized online ticket provider for Hamilton. Do not buy tickets from ANY OTHER online source. You will pay more on any other site. And how to know you are buying from the Denver Center?

  • Look for the Denver Center logo at the top of the online page.
  • Make certain that you see “denvercenter.org” somewhere within your URL.

Don’t be fooled by sites with URLs that might even include official-looking words like “buelltheatre” in the web address. It’s all a ploy to make you believe you are buying from an official site, when you aren’t. Bottom line: On Monday, just remember “denvercenter.org.”

NUMBER 3Real Hamilton tickets will range from $75 to $165 on the Jan. 22 onsale date, with a select number of $585 premium seats available for all performances.

Take it from 9News’ Jeremy Jojola: Only buy from denvercenter.org

NUMBER 4 Bonfils ComplexThe DCPA is providing three points of purchase: Online, by phone (303-893-4100) and at the box office located in the lobby of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. (See map at right.) Tickets are not guaranteed for any point of purchase, and agents are authorized to process only one transaction per customer, regardless of point of purchase. If you choose to purchase in-person at the DCPA box office, know that the line outside will not be allowed to form until after 6 a.m. on Monday. If you plan to purchase by phone, you can expect a very high call volume. Certain carriers may give a “disconnect” message as opposed to an “all circuits are busy” message — which is, unfortunately, out of the DCPA’s control.

NUMBER 5If you succeed in buying tickets, congratulations! As part of your purchase, you will be asked whether you prefer to have your tickets mailed to you, or left for you at will call. For this show only, the Denver Center’s “Print at Home” service is not a ticketing option — purely as a safeguard to cut down on potential fraud. So if any seller says they will email your tickets as a PDF to download, print and take to the theatre, know that it’s a fake.

And a bonus: Even after Monday’s sale, a small number of new tickets often become available for a variety of reasons. Before overpaying any secondary broker, try checking back on denvercenter.org first for any new availability. 

View answers to your Hamilton questions in our FAQ

Now, you might be asking: If tickets for Hamilton don’t go onsale until Monday, why am I seeing them being offered online right now, and for as much as $3,000 a seat?

The answer: These brokers do not even have their hands on any actual tickets yet, because until Monday, Hamilton tickets do not exist. Potential customers searching the web today for Hamilton tickets will find such offers and might think the Denver Center is gouging them — only it isn’t the Denver Center that is doing the gouging.

So how can these brazen brokers sell tickets they don’t have? “Essentially they are making promises to their buyers in the certainty that, one way or another, they will get their hands on enough tickets to satisfy their demand,” Ekeberg said. Bottom line, added Pina: “They are gambling. And they are betting the house.”

Despite the Denver Center’s best efforts, Ekeberg acknowledges, the brokers will successfully amass some inventory of actual Hamilton tickets. Just how many is not currently measurable.

HAMILTON Google screen shot One of the most common mistakes buyers make, Pina said, is trusting a Google search to send them to the right place for real tickets. For example, if you search “Hamilton tickets Denver,” the first four options you will see are actually paid ads from third-party ticket brokers. The official denvercenter.org outlet only comes up fifth. (See the example at right.)

“Most folks hear about a show like Hamilton on TV or the radio, and they go to Google to buy,” Pina said. “But most consumers aren’t aware that the first few options they see are paid advertisements. Take a second to look at your screen. These are sites that pay big money to look like the Denver Center when they are not. And if you click one of the wrong sites, you are going to find a ticket broker who might be selling a $70 ticket for $500.”

What to do? If you start at hamilton.denvercenter.org, you will not have this problem. But if you do use Google, keep scrolling until you see the real denvercenter.org option. hamilton.denvercenter.org is the only place you can buy tickets at face value.

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Hamilton: At a glance:
HamiltonWith book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography.  It is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now.

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