Hundreds of track-and-field supporters, some beginning their journey before the crack of dawn, were left frustrated in their quest to gain access to this week's Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/Supreme Ventures Limited (JAAA/SVL) national trials, as grandstand tickets for the event sold out within the first couple of hours.
A large crowd converged at the National Stadium ticket office yesterday and when The Gleaner visited the location about 9:30 a.m., grandstand tickets were sold out. One man who was there from 5:30 a.m. to purchase season tickets, was out of luck as there were none.
Tickets for the event, ranging from $500-$5,000, officially went on sale yesterday but, according to reports, most at the higher end of the scale flew off the shelves almost immediately. It has also been alleged that, in some instances, they never made the shelves at all, having been pre-ordered and snapped up by large corporate firms.
Ludlow Watts, chairman of the meet's organising committee, could not confirm what percentage of the higher priced tickets were actually made available to the general public, but said the organisation had no specific mechanism in place to gauge the allocation.
"You will have corporate people making purchases. Large companies would be buying 1,000 tickets, but we don't have a system to measure that and there is no suggestion that the majority of the tickets are going to them," he said.
Hyacinth Allen, who turned up to get her ticket to the event, was livid.
"I came here before 8 this morning and there was a long stretch of line. I went to work and came back and all now I can't get no ticket. The tickets are selling undercover, that's why we can't get none."
While scalping which was present at the Stadium yesterday, has been made illegal in some countries, the practice is legal in Jamaica and as a result there is not much the JAAA believes it can do.
"We cannot stop scalpers from buying tickets and reselling them. There is a lot of demand and many unscrupulous persons will be buying and selling the tickets," Watts said.
Live and direct
One scalper who spoke with The Gleaner said he was selling Friday's grandstand tickets for $4,000.
"This is how we live man. These tickets are not fake, them live and direct. We bought them from here this morning," he told The Gleaner.
Watts said so many patrons being left in the cold was simply a case of the demand for coveted grandstand seating far exceeding the actual number of spaces available.
"You have a grandstand area that can hold 4,600 to 4,700 persons and all the people want grandstand and finish line tickets," he said. The National Stadium is estimated to have a capacity of around 35,000 and checks made by The Gleaner yesterday revealed that several tickets for the bleachers, the stadium's uncovered area, were still available.