Red Rocks at sunrise

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison is operated by the city of Denver.

Denver City Council members renewed a $5 million, five-year contract with the ticket sale company AXS on Monday evening.

Following a unanimous vote by City Council, the second-largest ticket service provider in the country will once again become the exclusive ticket vendor for city-owned venues, including the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.

The approval comes despite a federal probe into its parent company, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), and other live event ticket companies like Live Nation and StubHub.

“As a city agency, we are supportive of the (U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee) doing the probe because it’s much better for our consumers,” Councilman Kevin Flynn said.

The probe “isn’t something we’re afraid of, and not something that AXS is afraid of,” Denver Arts & Venues spokesman Brian Kitts said. “What the congressional committee is doing is not looking into criminal activity; it’s asking for information.”

Federal lawmakers argue that “high, hidden fees” are putting ticket buyers at risk of unfair treatment.

“Many of these issues relate to a lack of transparency and fairness, which places purchasers at an unfair advantage when attempting to buy tickets in the current marketplace,” according to a letter from the U.S. committee to the ticketing companies.  

Nevertheless, Denver is moving forward with the contract, which is expected to annually generate about $4 million in revenue for both the city agency and AXS. The ticket sale company will receive $3 of each ticket sold, and the city will pocket $2.

AXS will provide ticketing services, box office operation, information and call center functions, and marketing support for city venues, such as the Colorado Convention Center, Denver Coliseum, Denver Performing Arts Complex, and McNichols Civic Center Building.

According to city documents, the modernized platform allows for standardized processes, basic consumer information and increased tax payments, funneling more than $35 million in Denver’s “seat tax” to the city’s treasury.

Prior to the contract, promoters were responsible for telling the city how many tickets were sold and would pay a tax based on that number. Since the contract was put in place, however, the city can now track exactly how many tickets are sold because they are processed through a system Denver agencies can access.

“This has meant a huge improvement to accountability and transparency when it comes to the seat tax,” Flynn said.

“This is not just a good deal,” Kitts said. “It’s vital to what Arts and Venues does.”

The AXS contract will take effect Jan. 1, 2020, and is slated to expire Dec. 31, 2024.

The Anschutz Corporation, which owns AEG, also owns the media group that runs Colorado Politics and The Gazette.

Editor's note: This article was updated Dec. 3 to correct the ownership of The Gazette and Colorado Politics.

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