Why is it so difficult to get a Wimbledon ticket?

The ticketing process shows that there is a long way to go before a tournament becomes a comprehensive event.

  • Opinion of Therese Rafael / Bloomberg

Tickets for marquee sporting events are not cheap. A Premier League top soccer match, where the stadium can accommodate 40,000-60,000 fans, is easy for club members to play for £ 100 ($ 119.71) and is much higher in the secondary market.

The weekend at the just-held F1 British Grand Prix in Silverstone started at just £ 155, but prices quickly reached thousands for a complete hospitality experience.

But only in Wimbledon, you are ready to spend on tickets that are not far enough to pass through the gate. You also need to be lucky or tenacious, and often both. Still, tournament tennis fans and even those who watched on TV noticed all the vacant seats as major stars such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and last year’s US Open winner Emma Raducanu took them to the court.

Illustration: Mountain people

For avid tennis enthusiasts, or those who just enjoy typical British events, hassle, uncertainty, and waiting in line are all part of the sport’s most famous tournament experience and tradition.

But do you need to do that?

There are several ways to get a ticket to Wimbledon — the total capacity is about 42,000 — but none of them are easy.

Prior to COVID-19, fans around the world were able to apply for tickets on ballots, which closed in December last year. Those who won the right to buy tickets in the canceled 2020 tournament this year did not have a new ballot because the tickets were carried over.

Wimbledon attendance has dropped 7% this year compared to 2019. This is not surprising given how difficult it is to get a ticket.

Members of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which governs British sports, can choose ballots to buy Wimbledon tickets. For those who remembered to opt in and were lucky enough to get an assignment, replying to a series of emails telling them how to buy a ticket and how to access it in the Wimbledon app was a six-step process. ..

There was a limit of about 10 days at each stage, so I had to set a reminder on my smartphone.

The winner of the ballot cannot be the chooser. You get the dates, courts, seats offered, or do nothing. Returned tickets can be purchased online by others, but they are processed promptly and are not guaranteed.

It’s a good idea to give a ticket to a loved one or a kid who is crazy about tennis, but if you’re a lucky ballot winner, you’ll need to take your ID and take part in the tournament directly.

Also, don’t just click without reading the terms of use.

Last year, fans used Twitter to complain when their ticket purchases were canceled because they used the same credit card for multiple purchases, which was clearly not allowed. I didn’t find the same limit this year, but I may have missed it.

If money and time don’t matter, there are other ways to get to Wimbledon. You can apply for corporate bonds that give owners the right to earn premium seats daily for five years in the tournament. From 2020 to 2025, the series Center Court bonds were priced at £ 80,000 (up to £ 120,000 the month before the tournament).

The first court bond in the series was £ 46,000.

It can be a decent investment. Bonds are the only tickets that can be legally transferred or sold, and the price is often appropriate for the seller.

The last time I checked, this week’s corporate bond tickets sold for over £ 2,700.

But even if you have a dosh to splurge, it’s not easy to get corporate bonds, and some people have been waiting for that opportunity for years.

The last option is to wait in line, and can you be more British?

The 2017 queue was reportedly 7,000 people long. This year’s tournament line began on June 17, three days before the first game.

Ground passes earned this way cost only £ 27, and the organizers release 500 tickets and an unspecified number of ground passes daily for each of the three main show courts.

However, please allow repetition. There is no guarantee of success. Every year there are stories of hilarious campers and the excitement of waiting in line, but I know there are more people who are distracted by prospects or unable to take time off from work.

It is no wonder that the number is said to have decreased this year.

The other three Grand Slam events on the tennis calendar operate a ticketing system that does not require advanced knowledge of game theory or saint-level patience.

The US Open is probably the easiest thing to expect, given the huge Arthur Ashe Stadium’s capacity of 23,000, but like Wimbledon’s center court, France and Australia have about 15,000 main courts. We also offer simple tickets for tournaments-purchase options.

All systems have systems that help fans access tickets and provide some flexibility, but limit the ability of revenueers and promotional corner resales.

Why not Wimbledon?

One difference is that Wimbledon is the only one of the four Grand Slams run by the Private Members Club.

The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquette Club is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world with a membership limit of 500.

I can afford it. You also need to take care of the corporate sponsors and bondholders who pay the full experience and exclusivity of the event. Instead of filling the show’s premium seats, you might even hang out at the Gatsby Club or enjoy a gin in the hospitality section. court.

Profit from the event will be sent to LTA to fund grassroots tennis. It reached £ 52.1 million in 2019.

The success of the tournament means more money to spend on tennis in the UK, but for the sake of clarity, there are some improvements and more UK players are at the top of the rankings, but tennis is Compared to many, the UK is still an expensive and exclusive sport elsewhere.

Still, one of the goals of LTAs and tournaments is to enhance accessibility.

For all the greatness of the tournament, there’s more to do before that.

Ralph Lauren uniforms, green and purple flower boxes, trash cans, and a net zero-emission pledge reflect an image of timeless tradition and trendy modernity, but with rows of vacant seats and long rows. The spectacle of Panther reinforces the story that there are elitists and they are a little backwards about all of them.

This year’s Wimbledon is more exciting than ever, but it’s also incompatible with the goal of making the sport more comprehensive.

The overly complex ticketing system is reminiscent of Mark Twain’s observations. The less you justify a traditional habit, the harder it is to get rid of it.

Hopefully Wimbledon will prove that he is wrong.

Therese Rafael is a Bloomberg opinion columnist covering healthcare and British politics. Previously, he was the editor of the editorial page for the European edition of The Wall Street Journal. This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board, Bloomberg LP and its owners.

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