The Colorado Rockies say the second time was the charm as World Series tickets sold out 2½ hours after going on sale online Tuesday, a day after a computer-system crash blamed on a "malicious" attack suspended sales.
The online transactions were not without its hiccups, however. Scores of fans reported computer problems trying to buy tickets and thousands were left empty-handed and disappointed.
Sales began at noon, and many fans immediately posted reports of trouble accessing the Rockies Web site.
The Rockies said that tickets were being processed slowly at first, but then picked up speed later in the process.
"The online system after a slow start certainly worked very, very well for us. We're very pleased with that," said Rockies spokesman Jay Alves. "I also want to tell all of our fans -- the ones that were disappointed today -- we do feel for you. We're sorry. We wish every fan who wanted to come to a game at Coors Field had that opportunity. Again, we understood that the demand would far exceed the supply and that's what happened here today."
Some people reported they were able to get through to purchase tickets, but most fans reported getting only the "countdown page" that starts over after it counts down to zero. On Tuesday, instead of a 60-second countdown, users were greeted with a 120-second countdown. Users were also told not to refresh the page themselves.
A number of fans reported the countdown page then took them to a "page not found" or froze at "1" second for a long time.
Still other frustrated fans reported they got to the point of picking seats and selecting online payment, then being timed out without getting a confirmation message.
Rockies spokesman Jay Alves first spoke to reporters at 12:36 p.m. and denied there were problems.
"Ticket sales are going through but it's going very slowly because of the high demand," said Alves at 12:26 p.m. "It's very slow but it's certainly moving and we're hoping that it picks up even faster as we move along."
A Rockies fan posted on TheDenverChannel at 1 p.m., "If the system were working correctly, all the tickets would be sold out by now."
Alves came back to talk to reporters at 1:15 p.m. and said, "We're very happy with the way things are going right now. We're very confident in the the online system."
He said tickets were being sold at a rate of 1,500 per minute.
If the 1,500 figure was correct, then the 54,000 available tickets should have sold out in 36 minutes. Instead it took 150 minutes. That means the actual figure was not 1,500 sold per minute, but 360 sold per minute, based on the sale of 54,000 tickets over 150 minutes.
At 2 p.m., he reported that all Saturday and Sunday tickets were sold out and then a half-hour later, at his last news conference, he said that all World Series tickets have been sold.
"Yesterday, it was part of the malicious attack. Today, obviously it went very well. Once it started rolling, we were very happy with the final end result," Alves said.
Alves referred all technical questions as to what happened to Paciolan and MLB.com.
The 20,000 tickets that were available were offered exclusively on the Rockies Web site
beginning at noon Tuesday. The tickets were only sold online -- not at the ticket office at Coors Field, to the chagrin of dozens of fans who had lined up outside the stadium.
"Experience will teach us that probably some different ways to go about it, but yes, online is by far the fairest, safest and most accurate way to do it," Alves said.
Some Shut Out During Checkout, Others Complete Sales
Angry fans vented at Rockies Management after their efforts were exhausted.
One suggested, "Call Hannah Montana and get some tips. She's 13 and can sell out the Pepsi Center in 10 minutes without this many problems. If you really think things are going well, I think maybe you need to stop in for some mandatory testing."
A woman in Highlands Ranch told TheDenverChannel by e-mail, "I GOT THROUGH! But I got to pick our seats, put in the password and had to set up an account ... that's where we got caught up. It froze up while I was waiting to set up an account to continue to check out! UUUUGGGHHHHH! I thought I was one of the lucky few who got through! I was one step away!!"
At 1:25 p.m., Kim Nguyen, managing editor of TheDenverChannel, was able to get through to purchase "best seats available" and got four tickets for game four in the upper levels behind home plate, totalling $642.
Kim wrote: "I can't believe it -- I finally got in! I left one of my computer screens open to the countdown timer and started doing other work -- checking my e-mail, monitoring stories, etc. I thought it was pretty hopeless because I had been booted out of the system several times when the countdown timer went to '1' and had to constantly refresh the page. After about 90 minutes of just waiting and checking the window off and on, I checked that window again and suddenly saw a different screen. The screen showed Coors Field seating and asked which tickets I wanted. I was in such a panic that I selected "best seats available" not knowing or even remembering to which game. It then led me to a screen where there was another countdown timer -- this one gave me 5 minutes to complete my transaction. I registered with a username and password as a new user and with the countdown ticking off like a timer to a bomb, I speedily entered my credit card and contact information and I got my tickets in time!"
A woman from Venezuela was waiting at the Coors Field ticket office in case tickets went on sale there and was called by her husband in Highlands Ranch to tell her he was able to get through to buy tickets online. He was calling to tell her to get out of line.
Even so, posts by frustrated fans on TheDenverChannel.com
indicated they experienced the same problems Tuesday as they did Monday when they tried to buy tickets.
Some fans reported being able to purchase tickets multiple times, getting more than the four per game limit.
"We are reviewing all transactions and will stop all orders over the four per game limit," Alves said Tuesday.
Many fans complained that the online sale was unfair to local fans because it gave out-of-town buyers an equal chance at the tickets.
"I think it's ridiculous. I hear that people in Hong Kong and people in Mexico City are getting the tickets," said fan Robert Schuman.
By Tuesday night, tickets began showing up on online auction sites and ticket marketplace websites for premium prices.
"So if you really want to go and your pocketbook is ready, then absolutely we have tickets," said Emily Costabile of StubHub, a site that matches sellers with buyers.
After the Rockies sold out of it's online tickets, the average price for a ticket at Coors Field was listing at over $800.00, according to StubHub. The most expensive was $4,400.00.
Local ticket brokers say the majority of their available tickets came from season ticket holders who opted to sell off their World Series tickets.
The Rockies originally planned to sell tickets at Coors Field and the team's Dugout Stores in the Denver area as well as online. They announced Wednesday all sales would be online, saying that would be more fair.
External Attack Or Limited Capacity?
On Monday, Alves said the Rockies Web site had been a victim of a external, malicious attack that shut it down after about two hours.
"Our Web site, and ultimately, our fans and our organization, were the victim of an external malicious attack on our Web site that shut down the system and kept our fans from being able to purchase their World Series tickets," Alves said.
Neither the Rockies nor the company hired to run the sale, Irvine, Calif.-based Paciolan Inc., have offered any specifics about what happened.
An IT expert told 7NEWS that what may have happened was a denial-of-service attack
that overloaded the target machine with external, spontaneous requests, such that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable. Or it could be that the server simply didn't have enough capacity to handle the load of ticket buyers, he said.
Sometimes hackers launch denial-of-service attacks to be a nuisance or to make a point, but in some cases they are used to disable a competitor, said Dave Marcus of McAfee Avert Labs.
Drew Curtis, the owner of Fark.com
, called the denial of service claim "bogus." Curtis, who has been on the receiving end of DOS attacks, told TheDenverChannel, "If they notified their upstream provider that they were under attack, the upstream provider could have shut that off in no time flat. They're lying."
Curtis said the heavy traffic Monday was likely coming from ticket brokers.
"Scalping is big money, big enough for scammers to develop utilities to open thousands of simultaneous connections attempting to buy tickets. I suspect that was at least part of the problem," he said.
Alves said he's not aware of any criminal investigation into what happened Monday morning.
Alves said a contingency plan had been put into place should things start to melt down again on Tuesday but he did not have to resort to that.
A joke circulating among fans Tuesday was that the odds were 2 to 1 against the Rockies -- not for winning the World Series -- but for successfully selling their home game tickets to fans.
"The news that the site was subject to a 'malicious attack' astounds me! How arrogant can Rockies management be? Are we honestly supposed to assume their ill-prepared servers went down because of an attack and not the 10-plus million hits it received in just over two hours?" one Rockies viewer wrote in our online forum
. " If ticket sales are any measure of success, the Red Sox are already 1-0 in the World Series."
Team officials had said earlier their computers
were ready to handle the expected crush of traffic because they are hosted on MLB.com servers. However, they didn't mention earlier that ticket requests would actually be funneled off to servers hosted by evenue.net in California.
Ticket sales were suspended about 2 ½ hours after online sales began Monday. The team said fewer than 500 tickets were sold Monday before the sale was shut down and those tickets will be honored.
"Our ticket vendor, Paciolan and Major League Baseball, were overwhelmed -- 8.5 million hits in an hour-and-a-half is a phenomenal total. Paciolan services more than 700 college and professional level teams and they are amazed and overwhelmed by what's happened here this morning," he said.
That figure probably did not surprise many fans who had predicted the computer system would melt from the crush of fans wanting tickets.
According to the Rockies Web site, Paciolan experienced a system-wide outage that impacted all of its North American customers. The outage affected Paciolan's other clients including the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Colorado football team and the National Western Stock Show.
Coors Field seats more than 50,000, but about 30,000 spots per game are allotted to season-ticket holders, the two teams and Major League Baseball.
Season-ticket holders got a chance to buy their World Series tickets last weekend and experienced no major problems.
The Red Sox held a random online drawing for the right to buy tickets to Fenway Park games, said Ron Bumgarner, vice president of ticketing. The Oct. 15 drawing attracted more than 350,000 fans; the winners bought tickets at a private sale.
The team also had a telephone sale for fans without computer access, Bumgarner said.
"It's our goal to try to make it as smooth and fair and efficient as possible," he said.
A limited number of tickets will also go on sale at Fenway Park on game day, with fans allowed to line up five hours before game time.
Alves said officials rejected the idea of a system similar to the Red Sox's, saying it's too late to begin that process now.
The Series opens in Boston with games on Wednesday and Thursday. Games 3 and 4 will be on Saturday and Sunday in Denver. If there is a Game 5, it will be played Monday in Denver.
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