The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic here in the U.S. has hit something of a bump in the road, as the Delta variant has sent caseloads skyrocketing and the economy scrambling to contain the fallout. Vaccine requirements are springing up, mask mandates are making a re-appearance and the worry is that the recovery will go in reverse as alarmed consumers head back inside to avoid the spread.
But consumers seem to have some other ideas, as an infectious strain of YOLO ( you only live once) is spreading among the population. Ticket prices are going up at places like concert venues, music festivals and amusement parks nationwide, as consumers are rushing to get back out there without much regard to the costs.
And that’s just the normal stuff — trips to Disney and concerts in amphitheaters are just part of the standard summer line-up. But this week, we’ve seen that if consumers are going big for the “normal,” they’re equally willing to go huge for the extraordinary, be it a trip to space, a Central Park concert or a “Field Of Dreams” baseball game in Iowa.
If you build it, they will come — and they’ll pay quite handsomely for the opportunity as summer 2021 comes to a close, and as the future of fall looks increasingly uncertain.
Rocket Rides: They’re Not Just for Billionaires Anymore
Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson ate up a lot of headline space this summer with the race in their respective rocket ships to briefly leave Earth’s atmosphere. And for those who found themselves sitting back on Earth bitterly disappointed that their summer vacation wasn’t in space this year, good news has come.
You too can take a rocket ride 50 miles above the surface of the Earth, just like Branson did a few weeks back on a Virgin Galactic rocket — and you don’t even have to be a millionaire to do it. (Well, technically, anyway: The price of a ticket will reportedly be $450,000, so being a millionaire would certainly be advisable before booking a flight.) The company has also announced that it will roll out tiered pricing for a single seat, a multi-seat package and a full-flight buy-out. We doubt they will become affordable to the average tourist when bought in bulk, but the firm said it has a lot of interest and will be starting with its long, long list of early hand-raisers.
An Expensive Free Concert in NYC
New York is celebrating its reopening with a concert in Central Park — a big one, featuring appearances by Jon Batiste, Andrea Bocelli, Kane Brown, LL Cool J, Elvis Costello, Lucky Daye, Earth Wind & Fire, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Cynthia Erivo, Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Hudson, Wyclef Jean, Journey, The Killers, Gayle King, Don Lemon, Barry Manilow, Rob Thomas, The New York Philharmonic, Polo G, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Patti Smith and national treasure Bruce Springsteen.
And the concert will be free — putatively, anyway. This week, the city started its free digital distribution of 80 percent of the 60,000 tickets to New York residents in batches. According to reports, the claims process has not been for the faint of heart, as crashes, glitches and other assorted technical hiccups plagued the system as consumers signed on en masse to get their tickets. And though the city has very sincerely asked people not to resell the concert tickets, scalpers have (as expected) ignored that request and flooded online to hawk the tickets to those unable to gain access for free.
Prices have varied on resale sites like Stubhub throughout the week, for as low as $48 and as much as $1,000. People also have the option to purchase from the 20 percent of tickets with VIP perks attached. Those tickets range in price from $399 to $4,950, depending on how important the buyer wants to feel. At the top of the range, VIP holders get seats right in front of the stage, entry into an exclusive backstage lounge featuring a “complimentary eclectic selection of hors d’oeuvres,” an open bar and a special entrance. For $399, VIPs get special seating and a dedicated restroom area, but no open bar or backstage lounge access.
They Built It — and People Are Paying a Lot to come
The hottest ticket in sports this summer is for a backyard game — albeit one being played in a very famous backyard. This summer, the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees will face off in a cornfield — specifically, the field that appeared in the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams.” Tickets to the small venue were only available via a sales lottery open only to adults with an Iowa zip code.
Iowa resident Holly Madorin made it into the lottery and got a shot at buying two tickets. She paid a total of $771 for the two tickets, according to the Des Moines Register — quite high for a regular-season game, but worth it to its buyer. “I’m not missing out on this game,” Madorin said.
And Madorin got a good deal, as individual tickets on Stubhub are going for more than $1,000 apiece. For those who can’t afford a spot in the 8,000-seat cornfield stadium, the game will also be nationally televised on FOX.
And while many will watch the Field of Dreams game from their couches, and few will invest in taking a rocket ride on the Virgin Galactic, the wilder spending spikes this week do speak to consumers who’ve been shut in for a while — and are willing to invest, sometimes quite a lot, in having new and interesting physical experiences out in the world again.
How summer’s spending spike will fare in the fall alongside COVID’s climbing case count still remains to be seen.