A story making the rounds on Thursday reported that a Providence, R.I. , venue would redeem tickets purchased for The Who’s canceled 1979 engagement in that city for seats at the band’s upcoming 2013 concert. It appears a clarification is in order.
The news item has its roots in 1979 when 11 fans attending The Who’s Cincinnati concert died during a crowd rush at he general admission concert event.
The Who was scheduled to play Providence after Cincinnati but then-Providence mayor Buddy Cianci, citing safety concerns, canceled the concert.
Then came the news that same venue the band was scheduled to play in 1979, now called the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, would honor tickets purchased for that show when The Who play the venue Feb. 26.
Now comes the clarification.
While the Dunkin’ Donuts Center’s GM did talk about redeeming 1979 tickets for the February concert during an interview on a Providence radio station, The Who is not involved and apparently does not know anything about 1979 ticket deal. A representative for the band did email Pollstar Thursday afternoon saying the story was “a hoax.”
However, after listening to a recording of Thursday’s John DePetro Show on Newstalk 63 WPRO / 99.7 FM, and talking with Dunkin’ Donuts Center general manager Lawrence Lepore on Friday, we can tell you the offer is genuine.
Here’s what went down on DePetro's radio show:
Lepore: If someone does have tickets from ’79, I think we would honor them.
DePetro: You will honor them?
Lepore: We will honor them. If you’ve got a ’79 ticket, we will find a way for you to come in and see the show.”
During a phone conversation with Pollstar on Friday, Lepore confirmed his offer, saying the original tickets would be sold as rock ’n’ roll souvenirs with proceeds benefitting the Special Olympics. So far, one person has taken him up on it.
“I thought it was a nice gesture, we could do something for charity, and they seem to have gotten a lot of mileage out of it,” Lepore told Pollstar. “What am I going to get, maybe 10 tickets back? I doubt it. But if I’ve got to buy 10 of the best seats, in the end it’s all worthwhile.”
Whether fans will actually produce 1979 tickets for The Who in Providence is anyone’s guess. Earlier on the same radio program, Lepore speculated that anyone still holding those tickets might be able to get as much or more than the $57.50 to $127.50 ticket prices charged for the upcoming tour by selling the 33-year-old tickets on eBay.
However, one thing is certain. Dunkin’ Donuts Center is basking in a tremendous amount of free publicity, something that can only be appraised in monetary terms as priceless.