Published: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 5:00 AM Updated: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 9:21 AM Lawrence F. Specker, Press-Register Hundred of fans line up for tickets to the free Jimmy Buffett concert Wednesday, June 23, 2010, at Gold Mine Pawn Shop in Daphne, Ala. Tickets to the July 1 concert ran out soon after they became available at 10 a.m. Wednesday, leaving many fans frustrated. Share A daylong gusher of disappointment and upset erupted at 10:10 a.m. Wednesday on Alabama's coast, as the supply of free Jimmy Buffett tickets evaporated within minutes, if not seconds, of becoming available. Buffett, who grew up in Mobile, will star in a recently announced show July 1 on the public beach in Gulf Shores, in an event intended to promote tourism and raise local spirits amid the oil spill. Special guests include Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown, and CMT will broadcast a portion of the music. Organizers said 35,000 free tickets would be up for grabs via Ticketmaster at 10 a.m., with a limit of four per transaction. Fans who lined up at Ticketmaster outlets or waited expectantly at their computers discovered that the tickets were taken at astonishing speed. Soon after 10, in fact, sellers were hawking tickets on eBay, Craigslist and other web locations, with asking prices usually over $100 each. By midafternoon, eBay and Craigslist had clamped down on the scalping. Dozens of aggrieved Buffett fans aired their dissatisfaction at www.al.com. Many felt that the ticketing system had cheated locals, and many were angry that scalpers stood to profit from the oil spill woes. A few hours later, the subject came up during a public forum in Orange Beach, when Mayor Tony Kennon told constituents about a plan to host a series of concerts at the beach and The Wharf to lure vacationers. The mayor hadn't heard about the Buffett ticket scalping until audience members told him. "Now 30,000 of them are on eBay," one man said. "Thirty-thousand on eBay? Hmmm. The secondary market," the mayor said. "That's the way America works." At www.cmt.com and Buffett's main business site, www.margaritaville.com, bland statements noted the enthusiasm for the tickets but not the aggravation. Brian Philips, president of CMT, said in an interview with the Press-Register that CMT didn't have anything to do with the mechanics of the giveaway. But he didn't buy the argument that anything wrong, corrupt or illegal had occurred. Tickets for the July 1 free concert in Gulf Shores, Ala., featuring Jimmy Buffett were being offered for auction Wednesday on eBay. Buffett and Chesney are two of the biggest draws in the concert touring industry, Philips said, and Zac Brown is one of the hottest newcomers. "If we could put 500,000 people safely on the beach, we would," Philips said. "I guess I'm looking at it as, well, I'm glad we were able to get 35,000 people in, I'm glad we were able to make the broadcast available to an additional 90 million households via CMT." On July 1, the cable channel will show the concert live for 90 commercial-free minutes, he said. Rebroadcasts through the weekend are certain, but details haven't been worked out, he said. "No one is paying us to make this show," he said. "This is our gift to our audience, and I would hope to the Gulf and to Alabama." Janet Eberly, co-owner of coastal business Alabama Dolphin Cruises, said the ticket shutout she suffered was an insult added to the injury of the spill. "My glass has been half-full since April 20, and people are trying to drink out of my glass," she said. "This was the first day I cried." "I think any ticket given out today should be negated," she said. To her mind, she said, tickets should be given out to locals and particularly business owners, who could then use them as a bonus to draw patrons to the coast. Despite it all, she said, she was going to find a way to listen to the show, which she said would take place within walking distance of her home. "I want my Jimmy Buffett," she said. "But instead of having to crash the party, I want to be a part of the party." (Press-Register Reporter Ryan Dezember contributed to this report.)
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