'Free' Hawks rally tickets offered for $1,500 on eBay
Those "free" tickets to the Blackhawks celebration rally at Soldier Field? Well, some budding entrepreneurs were trying to hawk them for as much as $1,500 on eBay.
Tickets were gone within minutes of being made available online at noon Wednesday, leaving many fans empty-handed.
Some griped that the ticketmaster.com site froze. Others quickly made offers on social media to buy tickets.
Many vented their frustrations.
"I've been staring at the Ticketmaster countdown for the past four hours," said Josh Jenkins of Elgin. "As soon as the timer ran out, everything loaded properly. I answered the security questions, and then waited for over 15 minutes only to be told, 'No tickets are available.'
"I guess I'm glad to see Blackhawks fans shutting down Ticketmaster but I think the new chant should be, 'We want tickets ... We got the Cup.'"
Some nimble fans proclaimed victory at being able to nab tickets, which were limited to four per person.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, so we're super excited and cannot believe that we actually got tickets," said Amanda Hitzeman, 22, of Hanover Park, a recent graduate of North Central College in Naperville.
Hitzeman said it's likely she scored because she only sought two tickets for herself and a friend. As recent graduates, neither has to worry about calling in sick; both are unemployed, she said.
"We're going to be staying downtown tonight so we don't have to try to get into the city tomorrow morning," she said. "We're not going to the parade. We're just going to go straight to Soldier Field and wait for the rally to start."
Some of those lucky enough to snap up tickets looked to capitalize on the Stanley Cup fever. A post on Craigslist at 12:12 p.m. Wednesday offered four tickets in Section 204 for $50 each. That post, along with several others offering tickets for up to $500 a pop, were flagged and removed within minutes. On eBay, tickets were going for as much as $1,500.
Fans were urged not to buy tickets from any person or website other than Ticketmaster.
Only free tickets from Ticketmaster are valid for entry; all others should be assumed to be invalid or counterfeit, according to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.
"After spending lots of hard-earned money on Game 6, I was looking forward to a free experience for the rally," said Matt Kloos of Naperville. "I am not a newcomer to getting tickets when they go on sale. Checked the Internet connection. Had all other browser windows closed. All other devices logged off the Wi-Fi. All efforts taken to have a connection that is as fast as possible."
While the site was hard to navigate at noon, Kloos said he quickly got through everything and was immediately in queue for tickets.
"I waiting for 15 minutes before a message popped up showing me I indeed had gotten four tickets," he said. "I don't recall the section or row. I also saw the timer. It was down to 1:30. So I quickly hit proceed to checkout, and waited. About five minutes later, my fears were confirmed. The timer had run out before I got to checkout."
Nearly 2 million people are expected to come out Thursday. Blackhawks team members on double-decker buses will escort the Stanley Cup trophy through confetti-filled streets to Soldier Field.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m. starting at Washington Boulevard and Racine Avenue, running east along Washington to Desplaines Street, then south on Desplaines to Monroe Street, and finally east on Monroe to Michigan Avenue where it ends.
The ticketed rally will follow at 11 a.m. in Soldier Field. The rally was moved there because Grant Park was flooded.
Parking lots will open at 5 a.m. and the gates at Soldier Field will open at 8 a.m. The city will outfit the south parking lot with large TV screens for overflow crowds.
Officials are encouraging fans to use public transportation, as access to many parking garages along the route could be restricted.
Because of Soldier Field's limited seating -- it holds between 60,000 to 65,000 people -- fans Wednesday started an online petition through change.org to get the rally moved back outdoors. By 10:30 p.m., the petition garnered more than 6,500 signatures.
• Staff writers Harry Hitzeman and Katlyn Smith contributed to this report.