Burning Man takes anti-scalper and traffic control measures as tickets arrive

Got yours?
Steven T. Jones

Most physical tickets to Burning Man were mailed out last week and, as many expected after a controversial ticket lottery with higher-than-expected demand, ticket scalpers were offering hundreds of tickets for more than double face value on websites such as eBay and StubHub. But Black Rock City LLC, the SF-based company that stages the event, over the weekend introduced some counter-measures to combat the scalpers and reiterated its request for burners to heed the culture's decommodification ethos and refuse to pay more than face value for tickets.

“I don't think any burner should buy a ticket for above face value,” Marian Goodell, the BRC board member who handles communications, told the Guardian. She said they've worked through the crisis of veteran burners – those who build much of Black Rock City's infrastructure each year – not getting tickets.

“It's sorting itself out, so I don't think people need to go to the StubHubs out there. They can ignore the scalpers,” she said.

BRC already canceled a secondary open sale of what was to be the final 10,000 tickets, instead selling them through established theme camps and art collectives, fairly effectively getting them out to most burners who wanted them. Then, in the wake of getting federal permits for a higher than expected population cap of 60,900 this year, BRC on Sunday announced the release of an extra 2,000 tickets this year.

Half of those were dumped into the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) system that BRC created for people who unsuccessfully sought tickets during the main sale of 40,000 tickets in January. To further deter scalpers, those who hadn't registered for that main sale – who are barred from buying through STEP – can try to snag one of the 1,000 tickets that BRC will offer during an online sale on Aug. 3, which requires registration on Aug. 1.

“We think the 1,000 tickets we put into the open sale will help pull the rug out from under the scalpers,” event founder Larry Harvey, who chairs the board, told us.

Harvey and Goodell also say BRC has been hard at work solving related issues as well, including concerns that the biggest ever population for this massive, isolated, temporary city in Nevada's Black Rock Desert – where waits to get on or off the playa during peak hours can be four hours or longer – will create traffic nightmares.

“More lanes will be open more often,” Goodell said, explaining they will beef up the number of volunteers helping to get people in and out, as well as those working the lines at Will Call, which all the STEP ticket buyers were forced to use as another anti-scalper measure.

The event traditionally opens at midnight on the Sunday night before Labor Day weekend (Aug. 26 this year), but those in the know have known it was actually possible to get in a few hours early during the last couple years. This year, BRC will formalize that arrangement to help with traffic ingress, officially opening the gates to all attendees at 6pm.

Goodell said BRC will also be coordinating with big art projects and doing communications efforts with all attendees encouraging people to stagger entrance and departure times as much as possible to spread out the peak and lessen wait times. “We really want participants to educate themselves and think about their expectations,” she said.

As an additional measure, BRC will be moving up the final official event of the week – the burning of the Temple on the last Sunday night (Sept. 2) – from 9 pm to dusk to facilitate more people hitting the road that night.

Both Goodell and Harvey acknowledged that it's been difficult to sort through the problems created by the huge demand for tickets this year, but they say that most of those who want tickets will have them and this should be a banner year in terms of the art and other offerings in this strange and bountiful experimental city.

“There were fears there would be less art this year, but there's going to be more art than ever before,” Harvey said. Asked which piece he's most excited to see this year, he said Yoga Robot by Colorado artist Scott Harris. To peruse some of the other art installations this year, click here to see check out art projects that got grants from BRC, which is only a small part of what attendees will see on the playa this year.


"As always, Chicken Moron is busy casting stones, but offers no solution.
What would you have done differently, Chickkin John? "

Well if you would actually listen you would would know that I am an advocate of BM being a members only club. And that each member should have voting rights. The that a constitution should be penned.

With voting rights we could fire Larry. And elect you. Then we'd really have something to complain about!

The members only thing solves the ticket problem. You pay $400 a year to be a member, then you should your card at the gate. Done. Or something like that.

The voting thing eliminates the nepotism and the cronyism. Done.

The constitution thing is our legacy. Right now, we don't have a legacy. We have a hangover. Because it's just a sex and drugs party. And a good one at that. Our current legacy is a bunch of really really old people telling a bunch of really really young people where they can shit. Boring. Penning a constitution would be the single most exciting event of our lives. We would write it open source. In the years to come, other nations would borrow from it. Larry would never go for it, because it includes other poeoples ideas and Larry only ever impliments things that either he thinks of or steals, mostly the latter. he woudl NEVER do any idea that was publicly someone elses. To him and Marion, it's all about them. They think that you go to BM because of them. They are totally deluded with grandiour. It's comical or sad or something.

How about water? Plumb the playa. $10 a person ticket increase, no one has to bring water. No more plastic bottles. How much would that cost? Would $500,000 cover it? Totally.

How about making the coffee free? Why not just give it away? Why with millions of dollars of profit do you need the $$ from the coffee. Increase the ticket $10 and then you can ACTUALLY say that there is no vending. Why dont' they do that? Because they want you to know that it's their rules and they can break them.

Keep going... why do we buy brand new lumber every year to build the man? Why do we allow people to burn plywood? Why isn't it common knowledge that there are hundreds and hundreds of reported sexual assaults at BM? Why did the guy who burnt the man HAVE to go to jail but when LLC member Will Rodger Peterson the drunk creep threw Rose Harding into a fire barrel she got paid off to hush it up? Why are we as a community letting these people fleece us year after year then they are going to sell our event to a group they select so they can quit but still retain full control and get more millions? Why?

You want solutions? So do I. How did we let this happen?

Posted by Chicken John on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 11:08 am

"Why did the guy who burnt the man HAVE to go to jail but when LLC member Will Rodger Peterson the drunk creep threw Rose Harding into a fire barrel she got paid off to hush it up?"

dear chicken john, that was sent far down the memory hole years ago. okay? it didn't happen. the vast majority of members of this community don't even know who paul addis is. let's just keep it that way. a lot of time and money was spent to keep this on the down-low.

and mr. will rogers was just a cowboy who never drunkenly sailed a woman into a fire barrel. if he did, it would be on his wikiepdia page: wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers

Posted by toot on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:04 am

How large does the old 3-4 window Will Call box have to grow to handle 61,000 people?
How long will the lines be?
How long will the CAR lines be?
How long will the portapottie lines be?
Will there be dust?
Will you be able to find *anyone* in the sea of people that will take over the desert?
Will Dismal blow it's wad at the Gate just to show the BLM the difference between a fireworks show and an "event"?
Will Larry leave his air-conditioned sanctuary (with actual running water plumbing!!) to feel the heat, the dust and the smell of his community?
Will anyone care?
Will I go?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

So in 12 years of attending the event I never had a problem getting tickets at the face value. That is, until this year where the beyond incompetently concieved lottery reared its narsisistic head and, even now.... ive still not been able to get a ticket.. unless I go to a scalper!? Which i wont do just out of spite. Whoever the morons are concieved the lottery fiasco succeeded in creating the perfect condition to leave us no other choice. Well, Im not going to stress over something this planning intensive that the idiots left us zero ability to actually plan with confidence for... Any longer. Truly maddening. Enough so to just say, screw em! Goodbye dust. Washing my hands of the old amazing friend that was once a seemingly intelligent Burningman. Can't support such nonsense that carries inflicted this ridiculously inconsiderate experiment on its supporters. F*** EM!

Posted by Hippycritz on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 8:11 pm


Posted by GuestEVERBUILT1 on Jul. 15, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

The only thing I need to add to this is the most desirable playa alternative entrance is between the tracks and gas station as you enter Gerlach. I have researched it and it is a clean easy entrance that avoids Gerlach. I have submitted a very light version of this to the BLM as I didn’t want to make them require a lot of this. I had 100s of people both burner’s and businesses write from the Reno-Tahoe and Carson area to the BLM during the comment period. We will continue to push for 70K.

Burning Man 70,000
Traffic, Law Enforcement, Light, Noise and Air Quality
Requesting BLM to release an additional 20,000 tickets priced to subsidize alternative transportation. This should slow down speculation/hoarding and create a net increase of existing tickets if it can be done this year
5/21/12 by Ron Bell Friends of Burner’s
1: Traffic
Goals; using alternative transportation & routes, carpool/carpool lanes to reduce bottlenecks/highway & Gerlach traffic, handicap/pedestrian friendly BRC
A. BRC airport area as a transportation hub for trains, busses, planes, pods, UPS deliveries temp. gear storage etc. Free shuttle from hub to BRC plazas
B. Free or inexpensive outbound busses from hubs at abandoned malls, factories etc. ideally in Fernley, Reno, Redding (via Hwy. 299/447), Empire Gypsum plant, Winnemuca (via SR A-18 with good tires/spares)
C. Free or subsidized trains if feasible from Fernley, Reno, Redding and Winnemuca, drop off at BRC airport hub connecting to BRC via free shuttle
D. Shuttle via playa side of esplanade stopping at 15 min. marks, 3, 6 & 9 plazas, Temple and Man for handicapped and other’s/decrease bikes
E. Encourage participants to use free shuttles/walk, bring fewer bikes, discourage excess baggage (carpets, couches, mannequins, bear rugs etc.). Less gear= more passengers in cars/less abandonment of bikes and junk
F. Allow for renting of used bikes from Reno Bike Project, locals, tribes, Kiwanis etc. for $40. refunded upon return or prorated for damage to eliminate the land in Reno, rent car/buy bike at Wal Mart, leave bike mentality which would result in them getting on a bus with less gear
G. Affordable subsidized small commercial aircraft to BRC airport from LAX, RNO, SEA, SAC, OAK and SLC
H. Alternative playa access for law enforcement, vendors, busses, 10 or more passenger vehicles between Gerlach & Empire (So. Playa temp. entrance & to be revegetated after event), and Trego (flagger at tracks)
I. Carpool lanes; lane 1 and 2 for one or two passengers, lane 2 and 3 for two or three etc. up to lane 8 for eight & nine passengers
J. To get less gear and more passengers in vehicles, pre event arrival of gear via trains, planes and trucks to BRC airport area hub and or plazas using pods, crates, gear on shrink wrapped pallets etc. (forklifted)
K. Encourage participants in vehicles coming from I-5 North to use 299 to 447 and coming from 80 east to use SR A-18 (good tires, area patrolled with service vehicles) to ease traffic through main highway/ Gerlach & Nixon.
L. Encourage minimum 4 day stays for law enforcement, health care and others, vendors to decrease traffic with larger vehicles/use express route.
M. Sell water in 2.5 & 5 gal. containers to encourage less packing of water (less gear=more passengers), participants using alternative transportation to receive free water vouchers. $5.00 deposit on containers/to be recycled.
2. Law Enforcement
Goals; to bring law enforcement to normal crowd standards, more carpooling/alternative transportation, privatization
A. Burning Man Participant’s are a passive cohesive sharing group who even with increasing crowds have had decreasing crime. An increasing mainstream presence of worldwide tourist’s, wealthier individuals, older responsible participant’s/outreach etc. have contributed to the decrease
B. Considering Burning Man is self policing, already has its own Ranger’s, perimeter patrol etc. and numerous overlapping law enforcement agencies, law enforcement should be scaled back to normal security ratios and standards for similar large peaceful gatherings.
C. Replace existing overstaffed law enforcement with private security in line with other large venues (concerts festivals etc.) with only the BLM present/reimbursed for law enforcement. Savings after privatization can be put into alternative transportation fund.
D. Housing law enforcement in Empire, Fernley if Gerlach full, bus them using the express playa route entrance between Gerlach and Empire
3. Air Quality
Goals; less idling, generator usage, cleaner air
A. By default, the alternative transportation plan should greatly reduce emissions from automobiles with less traffic and traffic jam idling
B. Encourage solar panels and fewer generators, public outreach where solar camps are to charge batteries etc.
C. Large explosions/burns to be with a minimum 3 mile per hour breeze
D. Encourage low lighting in R.V.s/trailers with safe candles, lanterns etc. to reduce generator usage with a back to the basics mantra
4. Light and noise pollution
Goals; to see if it is still an issue with decreasing population in Gerlach/Empire and decreasing complaints
A. Continue the policy of giant sound installations facing deep playa
B. The few complaints over so many years versus public enjoyment of lights and sound outweigh the few who are minimally impacted
In Closing:
Release 20,000 higher priced tickets to fund alternative transportation.
Additional 20,000 tickets should stop scalping, hoarding and commercialization of tickets especially if done this year.
Remember; it was only a couple of years ago that Burning Man was in the
40,000s, this ticket scenario as well intentioned as it was, resulted in a self fulfilling prophecy/shortage.
Thank You for your patience and time in reading this, I would love to add or subtract any suggestions/wiki you have as fit.
Ron Bell
Friends of Burners

Posted by GuestRon Bell on Jul. 15, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

Allow me to dispel this decommodification principle one and for all.

I've worked with the org, and for one ONE example (to avoid tldr) there is an org guy who owns several powerful generators that he keeps on his property basically doing nothing all year until BM. He hires these generators out to to org and other camps and that pays all of his expense plus proft. He receives cash before, during and after the event for use of these generators. THAT is commodification! and that is just one single example how org members and others are making bank out there.

but YOU shouldn't do it.

today's burner gets pissed on in the face and cheers how wonderful the rain is. you know what - they deserve it. fuck em.

Posted by pona on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:20 am

I've been working to help the event for years now and get my tickets every year for free or for cheap. No worries about prices, availability, scalpers, profits or any of that stuff. Just hard work and hard partying.

If you didn't set yourself up with a gig like that, that's your fault. The opportunity is out there. I love the event and couldn't care less about the politics of the whole thing.

What a freaking party, though! If you are going, see you out there! If not, shut up and cry about it at home.

Posted by noodle on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:43 am

"I've been working to help the event for years"

not realizing that is the cost of your ticket. your time is worth money so your tickets aren't free.

if you put the same amount of time and effort into something that actually mattered, you would have earned enough for 10 tickets, prolly.

Posted by pona on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 1:15 am

Dear Larry and Marion and everyone else at BMORG,

Have you not realized by now that it's NOT BURNERS who are going to pay scalper prices? It's people who HAVEN'T BEEN YET who WANT TO ATTEND who will fall victim to these profiteers.

As has been suggested in thousands of posts spread across thousands of blogs, forums, and social media, the only way to stop the scalping is to tie the tickets to ID's and not allow transfers for ANY REASON. Will this create problems of its own? Of course. However, at least we'll get people showing up who aren't getting shafted and are willing to deal with the extra layer of hassle.

Posted by Ian Denchasy on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 9:50 am

Then event will be UNDERSOLD. The Hat don't need this.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 7:57 am

For years I have wanted to attend this event, for years I had to work. I got laid off of work last month and in scrambling to try to secure legit tickets to the event, I've come across a lot of odd exchanges between people like this.

What is wrong with you people? In the strictest sense, there is no such thing as Non-Profit, because someone will be employed, get paid, manage, etc. just as in the strictest sense there is no true Democracy. No true market driven economy. Everything can be corrupted. Let the tickets become commodities and you will end up with either anarchy or the top 1% will corrupt the small piece of experiential freedom still available.

But the reality is, life is what you make of it. Some people see life as a series of possibilities, some as a series of limitations.

The real question is why would anyone defend the scampers and ticket brokers in the first place, unless they were one. Ticket scalpels, brokers and everyone up to and including ticketmaster are shallow, empty hollow thieves who who would screw anyone over so that the truly rich and spoiled can take away the opportunity from the deserving, at double or triple face value.

I am not crazy about the ticket situation but I applaud the BMORG for trying to make it available for everyone to get tickets. No system is perfect.

For all the years I've wanted to go to the Playa it was because I saw it as an opportunity to just be and to live even for a short time with like minded people without the real world creeping in. So if you think it's for profit or not, political or not, what ever you believe, if it isn't that we can all live together for a short period of time in the most desolate of places than do the rest of us a favor and stay the fuck at home.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 06, 2012 @ 1:43 am

What is wrong with you people?!?! Who cares if BMORG makes $$?! They SHOULD make money! They deserve to. They supply a "product" that is unique and superior, not to mention a logistical nightmare! Furthermore, they give people an extraordinary experience over the course of an entire week for relatively the same price as many of these weekender festivals which lack an inkling of the magnitude and creativity of Burning Man. I gladly fork over the cash and will continue to do so as long as the organizers keep organizing and offering this, in my opinion, priceless event.

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