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1.6 million Jacko fans register for memorial tickets

By | Published on Monday 6 July 2009

So, on Friday the family of Michael Jackson announced that 11,000 free tickets would be made available for the late singer’s big memorial bash tomorrow, to be distributed by lottery. And on Saturday 1.6 million people duly applied for tickets. Which, maths experts assure me, is a lot.

The big draw was made last night, with 5500 of the registered fans getting an email telling them they’d won a pair of tickets for the show, which, as expected, will be held at LA’s Staples Centre. An additional 6500 tickets were given away for seats at the neighbouring Nokia Theatre, where the event will be simulcast.

Of course hundreds of thousands more people are expected to flock to LA for the event, with police admitting they are preparing themselves for anywhere between a quarter of a million and 700,000 fans to amass on the city. That said, fans without tickets were being encouraged to watch the memorial concert at home – organisers will make a stream of the event available for free to media around the world. Officials stressed that access to the area around the Staples Centre would be restricted to ticket holders, that the large screen at the complex will not broadcast the event, and that there will be no funeral procession through the city.

The event will begin at 10am LA time tomorrow morning (6pm London Time). Specifics of what will happen at the memorial are not known, though some musical performances are expected. A private funeral for family and friends will be held shortly before the public memorial.

Various measures have been put in place to try and stop people touting tickets to the event. IT measures were employed to try and filter out multiple or ‘bot-originated’ registrations online, while fans have been given unique codes to swap for tickets and wristbands on the day. Security is expected to be tight. Meanwhile, at the press conference announcing the event on Friday, organisers pleaded for people to not try and re-sell tickets to the memorial out of respect for Jackson and his fans.

Despite the measures put in place to combat touting, it’s an event that will be attractive to more unscrupulous ticket touts. Given thousands of Jackson fans are reportedly paying AEG Live fifty quid for tickets to a Jacko event that will never happen (ie they are opting to keep their souvenir tickets for the now cancelled O2 shows, rather than get a refund), who knows what they’d pay to get tickets to a real event, and one as significant as the memorial?

It’s not clear who is covering the production costs of the memorial, though the city will foot the bill for policing the event and surrounding areas. With LA’s authorities laying people off amid budget deficits and the like, the cost of the memorial to the city was high on the agenda for local media at Friday’s press conference. City Councilwoman Jan Perry said the city budgeted to police four major and unforeseen events each year, and that this would be one of them, though added that if anyone was interested in or willing to help fund the police effort around the Jackson memorial, that they should get in touch with her via email. Perhaps they could cancel the memorial at the last minute and charge fans fifty quid to keep their wristbands, that seems to be a good way to recoup costs associated with Jackson.