A Two-Horse Town

Ticketmaster’s biggest competition in the Mile High City is homegrown and just getting started.

February 2011

For years, Denverites—and the country—were ruled by Ticketmaster, that online behemoth that doled out just about every big ticket in the city. The convenience (online shopping) barely made up for the negative aspects (fees, fees, and more fees). Fans could expect to cough up $10 in fees for a $32.50 show at Red Rocks—nearly a third of the ticket price. That seemed plain wrong to the bean counters at Kroenke Sports Entertainment, which owns the Nuggets, Avalanche, and Pepsi Center. In 2006, the company launched TicketHorse, a Denver-based ticketing company. “The questions that [Kroenke executives] asked at the time: Can we do it better, and can we do it more profitably?” says TicketHorse’s general manager Nick Collison. “The answer to both of those, we felt, was yes.”

Today, TicketHorse sells roughly three million tickets a year locally to the Pepsi Center, Paramount Theatre, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and elsewhere, mostly with lower fees than those of Ticketmaster. Some group sales and season tickets are sold with no fee whatsoever. TicketHorse’s scaled-back cost structure is working so far: Nuggets, Avs, and Mammoth sales are up 10 to 12 percent apiece, compared to the Ticketmaster days. “Being local has been a key to our success,” says Jeremy Short, the company’s operations director. “We’re more invested in the events than Ticketmaster. We’re just going to work a little bit harder.”