Michelle Obama’s 12-city book tour accompanying the release of her memoir, “Becoming,” was always destined to be a hot-ticket event, especially her Nov. 13 Chicago stop, which coincides with the book’s worldwide release date.
In anticipation of the high demand for tickets, Penguin Random House partnered with Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” program “to ensure tickets get into the hands of fans and not scalpers or bots.” Fans of the former first lady had to register their Ticketmaster account for a chance to be “verified” between Sept. 12 and Sept. 18. According to the ticket sales website’s policy, pre-sale access through the Verified Fans program is distributed randomly when demand exceeds supply.
Those who won pre-sale access got a 24-hour head start on ticket sales for the book tour’s only Chicago stop at the United Center. Even at face value, admission prices were steep. Less than an hour after tickets went on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday, they were staggering. By 1 p.m., the cheapest official tickets — in the not-quite-nosebleed upper levels — started at $500.
The list price for face-value tickets ranged from $29.50 for the least expensive, admission-only tickets, up to $3,000 for the “Front Row Meet & Greet Package,” which includes perks like a front-row seat, a VIP parking space and separate VIP entrance, an autographed copy of the book shipped to your home after the show, admission to a meet and greet with the former First Lady, and most notably, an “individual pre-show photo opportunity with Michelle Obama.”
Ticketholders at the “Premium Meet & Greet Package” level ($2,750) will get the same perks, minus the parking spot, and a seat in rows 2-5. A $2,500 ticket will net a seat in rows 6-10 and a group photo-op with Mrs. Obama before the event.
Obama’s team announced Friday morning the addition of two more shows due to overwhelming pre-sale demand: a second visit each to Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn, N.Y. days after earlier scheduled stops in both cities.
Truly humbled by the response to my upcoming book tour. I can’t wait to share BECOMING with all of you & hope to see you somewhere along the way! pic.twitter.com/uT7im9hnFk— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) September 20, 2018
A Penguin Random House spokesperson for “Becoming” did not immediately respond to requests for comment about how many of the arena’s 23,500 seats were available to the public for the discussion.
In the style of a Beyoncé stadium tour, tickets to “Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama” were listed for at a premium markup on resale websites within minutes of the public sale going live. Tickets for a pair of seats in the first row of Section 3 — just the seats — had appeared on StubHub by 10:49 a.m. for $6,700 apiece.
The face value of comparable seats near the stage, sold through Ticketmaster, range from $500 and up to $1,795 –– no autographed book, photo op or even a “collectible laminate and lanyard” included.
Resale prices are expected to fluctuate as demand increases and the number of tickets wane. Ticketmaster’s “Platinum Seat” pricing model means the official prices on remaining tickets will also adjusted based on demand.
Obama and Live Nation will be donating 10 percent of every show’s tickets to local charities, schools, and community groups in each city the tour visits. Those fans will also receive free admission to the tour stop in their city, according to a release from the book’s publisher.
Priced out of Obama’s book tour? Consider a more affordable front-row VIP concert package option: Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “On the Run II” tour. Those will only set you back $2,000.