'Not for sale, nothing': Hip fans refuse top dollars to part with Kingston concert tickets

Trying to coax a ticket for the big Kingston show out of a committed Tragically Hip fan is near impossible. Some, who were able to snag tickets this morning, said no price tag can be placed on the experience of this concert.

Tragically Hip performing final concert of their Man Machine Poem tour this evening

Chris Jenkins, right, and his father, Mitch Lowndes, were some of the lucky Hip fans who were able to secure a ticket for tonight's concert after the box office put about 200 on sale this morning. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

"Not for sale, nothing."

How about for $1,000, $5,000?

"No," said Chris Jenkins, a London, Ont., resident, as he refused to accept any money to part with the ticket he purchased just this morning for the Tragically Hip's big show in the band's hometown of Kingston, Ont.

Maybe $50,000?

"No, I'm going in."

Standing outside the Rogers K-Rock Centre, where the Tragically Hip is slated to perform at the final concert of the band's Man Machine Poem tour this evening, Jenkins was beaming. He was one of the lucky ones able to snag a ticket after about 200 were released this morning.

Jenkins said he took a chance, hoping more tickets would be released. So he and his dad arrived at the arena box office around 8 a.m, were about 15th in line and were able to get two floor seats for just over $200. The downtown venue holds fewer than 6,000 people.

His sentiment, rebuffing all offers to sell his ticket, was one shared by many fans here this morning, saying a price tag could not be placed on the experience of seeing this particular concert, which follows the announcement that the Hip's lead singer Gord Downie is suffering from terminal brain cancer.

"This is going to be a memory that I'm going to have forever. This is rock-and-roll history being broadcast across the country and I get to be in the building."

CBC is broadcasting and streaming the show live and commercial free on television, online and on radio. Hundreds of viewing parties are also taking place across the country — in such spaces as public parks, squares, bars, restaurants and movie theatres.

Around 10 a.m. in Kingston, the tickets went on sale — about 200 of them, according to reports — and they were sold out by 10:45 a.m. About 100 people had been in line, waiting. Some said they had heard rumours on Facebook about more tickets being released, and some said they heard a radio station announce the sale.

Just hoping

Others, like Jenkins, were just hoping.

If there are scalpers around the arena, they're keeping their presence well hidden, likely preferring to do their business online. One man near the arena, who did not consider himself a "scalper," was nevertheless trying to unload two floor tickets for $2,000, saying that he needed the money.

People here said they heard prices for the hottest ticket in town are in the thousands of dollars. Jenkins himself said he would have been willing to pay $600, but acknowledged that that would have probably been way too low.

Anne Vincent said she drove about a half-hour from Bath, Ont., after hearing a rumour that more tickets were for sale. Since the concert had been announced, she said she had been trying desperately to score a ticket, going on the presale list, entering every contest, hoping, perhaps, she might have a chance at one of the lottery tickets.

Anne Vincent, who also was able to purchase a ticket this morning for the concert, said she didn't even bother to look where the seats are, as long as she's inside. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

But she was out of luck, until today, when she took a chance and headed to the box office.

"My voice is shaking, I'm so excited," she said.  "I don't even know what these seats are. They could be outside on the roof. I don't care."

And asking her if she'd be willing to depart with them, for a good price, is fruitless. 

"Nothing, I'm going," she said. 

But some fans weren't as lucky as Jenkins or Vincent.

"I just missed out on it again," said one Hip fan, walking away in tears, showing up too late to get a ticket. She was furious, saying that the ticket vendors had told her Friday that no other tickets would be put on sale today.

Out of luck

Shaun Kennedy said when he heard about the ticket sale this morning, he drove in from about 20 minutes west of Kingston. When he parked his car at Food Basics, located right beside the arena, he saw a guy sprinting to the arena.

He didn't sprint, but he decided not to take the time to pay for parking, instead he was willing to "take one for the team" and possibly get dinged with a parking ticket.

Unfortunately, that might be the only ticket Kennedy gets today.

He said there were about five people in front of him when security pointed to the first of those five and said "that's the cutoff."

"I was like 'Oh my god. You're serious?' I'm devastated," he said. 

Despite missing out, Kennedy said he hopes more tickets will be released later this afternoon. He joined a handful of others who continued to lineup by the box office.

"What you're looking at is hope," he said. "I'm willing to stand here for a little while because I'm that committed."

The tour finale gets underway at 8:30 p.m. ET. Full details below.

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Mark Gollom

Senior Reporter

Mark Gollom is a Toronto-based reporter with CBC News. He covers Canadian and U.S. politics and current affairs.