British NBA Fans Left Shafted By Ticket System (Again)

Another year of pain for NBA fans in the UK.

Following the shambles of last year’s half empty O2 Arena for the annual NBA game held in London, we all hoped for a smoother experience this time round. Having signed up for a pre-sale ticket link months ago like many people, I woke up this morning to hopefully purchase tickets for the game in January.

The 2018-19 NBA season finally started last night / this morning. The first game tipped off at 1am UK time Wednesday, finishing at 3:30am, and the second game finished at around 6am.

For NBA fans in the UK, this meant staying up to watch at least one of these games, getting minimal sleep, getting on to the pre-sale ticket website by 8:30am and hoping to get a ticket. Many won’t have had the luxury of sleep and will have just stayed up for the short time between the Warriors/OKC game and the ticket-selling window.

Loading up the website from the email I received yesterday, I was greeted with a countdown until the window opened. We had been told we’d be entering our details at 8:30am prior to the website opening half an hour later. Instead, we waited and waited until 9am when the site gave us all the small joy of watching a small man walk across our screen. We were now in the queue.

The little blue man strutted his stuff, taking what seemed like years to move a pixel or two. He must’ve been wading through treacle. Finally he reached the end of the screen and I was told I had made it to the pre-sale area and was no longer in the waiting room. Good news!

Asked to select a ticket type, everything was already greyed out and the only option was to select ‘Best Available’. Still I hoped for the best. Clicking through to the next page, I was made to verify I was indeed a human being – which I am. And then the bad news, I knew it would happen I just wanted to believe I still had a chance. “There are no tickets available”.

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9:20am – the NBA London pre-sale is sold out.

Browsing Twitter, it’s clear that most people had a similarly rage-inducing experience with the AXS/O2 Arena website. I’ve had tonnes of people being in contact: “did you get tickets?” “I’m still in the queue, are you in?” “I’m in but there’s nothing here”. At 9:30, ten minutes after I made it out of the queue and into the purchase area, we were all told that “due to high demand the NBA Fan Presale is now sold out”. Brilliant.

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By 9:30 the pre-sale website had effectively been shut down.

Last year I did the same thing, I woke up bright and early only to sit in the queue for nearly an hour for all the tickets to have been snatched up by bots or ticket touts to be resold for as much as ten times the RRP on StubHub. I don’t know why I had so much hope this year round. Maybe I expected the NBA to see the empty arena and push for a more transparent and fan-friendly ticket selling experience. Maybe it was just blind optimism. Either way, this morning us NBA fans were faced with the exact same issues as last year.

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Tickets for sale on StubHub at a huge markup on face value.

Now we are left weighing up whether to shell out hundreds of pounds over face value for tickets sold by touts on StubHub and other re-sale sites or miss out on watching the game we love live in London. Sure there’s another chance to buy tickets in the general sale on Friday morning, but if today and last year are anything to go by – expect to be disappointed.

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