ST. LOUIS — As major events return to convention centers all over St. Louis, the hottest ticket right now is for the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials happening at The Dome at America’s Center. Scalpers know that too, and an official-looking reseller website has convinced buyers to choose them over the real deal supplier.
Jo Anne Howard of Belleville was especially excited to see the gymnast many are calling the greatest of all time.
“I’ve been watching Simone Biles at the last Olympics,” said Howard. “I just had to go!”
So, she started her search the way many people do, on Google.
“I Googled 'Dome St. Louis' and I came to a website that looked like it was the Dome St. Louis website,” she said.
At first glance, the website looks legitimate. After all, the domain name is “DomeStLouis.com.” There’s information about The Dome, the Olympic trials and even a link to The Dome’s authentic Facebook page.
Howard bought the tickets, feeling confident she was getting them from the source, for $738.
“Splurging a bit to, you know, see Simone,” said Howard.
A few weeks later, Howard saw ticket prices that made her splurge feel like a rip-off.
“I looked on Stubhub and I saw the tickets for a third of the price of what I paid for that same section,” she said. “I'm really disappointed.”
The I-Team found the same company, Ticket Squeeze, has similar websites for stadiums around the country. They even have a website with the URL "KansasCityField" to resell tickets at Kauffman Stadium and a website with the URL "TheaterStLouis" to resell tickets at Powell Hall.
Ticket Squeeze is not accredited with the National Association of Ticket Brokers.
A disclaimer on the front page of Ticket Squeeze's The Dome website says, "This site is not owned by St. Louis Regional Sports Authority or affiliated with The Dome. This site independent [sic] and links to genuine resale tickets for all events at The Dome."
After the I-Team brought the website to the attention of leaders at The Dome, Brian Hall of Explore St. Louis said they worry about how official the site looks to consumers.
“We will bring the site that is masquerading as The Dome at America’s Center to the attention of our attorneys,” Hall said.
Rebecca Phoenix of the Better Business Bureau said the bureau would be looking into the sites too.
Phoenix said calling the venue when looking for tickets may be the safest way to guarantee the tickets are coming straight from the source.
“What that does is that gives you an opportunity to know what the face value of the ticket is,” she said, “Or the options that you have, the range for tickets and then you can do a price comparison.”
Howard’s tickets arrived on the first day of the Olympic trials. She paid $329 for each. The Dome’s official ticket price for the same seats is just $47.
“I need to verify if these tickets are valid or not. If not, then maybe I can go through my credit card and get my money back on them,” said Howard.