April 17, 2014

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Parents and tweens chase Cleveland’s hottest ticket

CLEVELAND — So close, but yet so far away.

That’s how many parents likely felt Saturday morning when, after showing up with their young kids in tow, they were told tickets were sold out for the Jan. 3 Miley Cyrus “Best of Both Worlds” concert tour date at Quicken Loans Arena.

STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE
People wait in line to buy tickets for the Hannah Montana concert at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday.

The announcement came about 20 minutes after tickets for the bubble gum-sweet pop princess’ show went on sale at 10 a.m.

If you were one of the lucky ones, you got tickets.

Like Kristy Neff of North Royalton, who admits to crawling out of bed before sunrise to get tickets for her daughter. The 9-year-old girl is a huge fan, and Neff thought the concert would make one heck of a Christmas present.

She was not alone.

Dozens of people crammed the concourse in front of the arena box office. Many more logged on to Ticketmaster.com or headed to their local Ticketmaster retailer.

“This is crazy,” Neff said after purchasing four tickets in Section 100. “I had an easier time getting front-row Kid Rock tickets. This is nerve racking.”

Miley Cyrus, the 14-year-old daughter of country music star Billy Ray Cyrus, is the star of the hugely popular Disney television series “Hannah Montana.” On the show, Miley plays Miley Stewart, a typical teenage girl with an amazing double life that only her family and close friends know about. By day, she is an all-American girl and by night she is pop superstar Hannah Montana. The double life ensures she can grow up just like any other girl when she is not on stage.

The show debuted in March 2006 and has captivated young audiences, who crave anything “Hannah Montana” — from clothing, jewelry and dolls to unique “Hannah Montana”-inspired accessories and school supplies. Ask any tween girl who Hannah Montana is, and you will likely get a starry-eyed gaze followed by the proclamation that she is just totally awesome.

First, the soundtrack to the television series was released, and fans were given the chance to take Hannah Montana’s music with them everywhere.

Then, it happened.

Earlier this year, Hannah/Miley released a 20-song CD that offered fans — well, the best of both worlds — as songs were picked from the series as well as debut singles for Miley Cyrus. The announcement of a nationwide tour with opening act the Jonas Brothers
Band soon followed, creating a dynamic double-bill concert for the 8- to 16-year-old crowd.

That’s what brought throngs of parents, fans and, of course, ticket scalpers to downtown Cleveland on Saturday morning in hopes of snagging the hottest ticket around.

Many, like Neff, arrived hours before tickets went on sale. However, arena officials had a plan to circumvent those looking to camp out. No one was allowed to line up before 6:30 a.m., when numbered wristbands were handed out. At 9:30 a.m. a random number was called, and the person who had that numbered wristband was considered the first person in line. The line followed in consecutive order after that.

Arena officials said it was the best way to ensure fairness.

The system worked out for Lisa Greene of Parma. She and her 9-year-old daughter Amy were the first ones in line. They walked away with three seats on the floor.

Amy, a big fan, couldn’t have been happier.

“She sings so awesome,” Amy said. “I’m like her No. 1 biggest fan. She’s so pretty.”

The show is selling out concert arenas faster than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and it’s impossible to get tickets at the box office at this point. Online ticket broker StubHub.com has tickets available, but there’s a price to pay — at noon Saturday, tickets for the concert were selling for $210 to $3,000 — way more than the listing price of $26 to $56.

The tickets have been going quick for days. On Tuesday, members of the official fan club, Miley’s World, were allowed to purchase tickets days before the general public. They also went in a matter of minutes.

That’s how 14-year-old Christina Carrero of Lorain got four tickets for herself, her cousin and her parents.

Last Monday, she paid the $30 fee for the fan club membership and was given a special code that allowed her to purchase the tickets through Ticketmaster on Tuesday morning.

“I just thought that was best because I knew how hard they were to get and everything,” Carrero said.

An Amherst Steele High School teacher, who didn’t want to disclose her name for fear her 9-year-old daughter would find out what she was getting for Christmas, also got tickets that way.

The fan club membership was a birthday present for the girl, who celebrated her big day by hosting a “Hannah Montana” birthday bash where the guests dressed like rock stars and sang karaoke all night. It will be her first concert.

“She idolizes her. She loves her show. She loves her music. We even have a life-size Hannah Montana cut-out at our home,” the teacher said.

However, what fans have not admired during the ticket hunt are the scalpers that are hoping to turn a profit. Dozens of scalpers were intermingled with the fans Saturday morning.

“It’s a disgrace that they would do something like that,” Neff said. “It just makes it harder for the kids who really want to go but won’t be able to afford their high prices.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.