Make us your home page

Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day sells out, becomes hot ticket for scalpers

Beer fans crowd the Cigar City tasting room at Hunahpu’s Day 2013.

Austin Anthony/tbt*

Beer fans crowd the Cigar City tasting room at Hunahpu’s Day 2013.

Cigar City Brewing's Hunahpu's Imperial Stout has gained astronomically high marks from beer-rating websites, publications and the community at large since its first release five years ago. It's no surprise then, that Hunahpu's Day, its annual bottle-release party, has become almost too big to manage.

Last year, more than 9,000 people attended the event, which is held at the Tampa brewery every March. This year, Cigar City tried something different, making Hunahpu's Day a ticketed event and setting a limit of 3,500 attendees.

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

The first batch of tickets, which went on sale Jan. 13, were available only to members of El Catador, Cigar City's exclusive club for special bottle releases and first picks for ticketed events like this. The next batch, which went on sale to the public a week later, sold out in less than an hour, with estimates putting that figure closer to 30 minutes. Tickets set aside for sale in the tasting room lasted the full three days that they were to be on sale, and there were even some left over, allowing Cigar City to put more for sale online.

But if it took local fans three days to buy most of the tickets available to them, how did the rest sell out online in less than an hour?

A big part of the reason is because Hunahpu's Day is a pretty big deal, and it attracts fans from all over the country. But another more troubling reason is that some view a popular event as just another way to rip off people.

There were rumors of tickets going up on Craigslist and eBay on the same day that the online sale ended for $150, three times the original $50 price.

"I'm not thrilled about it," said Cigar City head honcho Joey Redner. "Scalpers are like those people who will clean out the take-a-penny tray because, 'Hey, free money!' "

Still, he's not too worried about the overall effect of scalpers on this year's Hunahpu's Day.

"I suspect the people who will actually engage in scalping is pretty small," he said. "It's hard to quantify, but my guess is the vast majority of people that really wanted to be at ­Hunahpu's Day got a ticket without having to pay scalper prices."

Early this week, I did a couple of quick searches and found several ­Hunahpu's Day tickets for sale by scalpers, both currently and recently sold. A set of two tickets went for $200 on eBay (a generous discount from the going rate of $150!), while another enterprising person is listing a single ticket for the same price.

It's obvious that any heavily attended event that involves ticket sales is guaranteed to be exploited by scalpers. And I'm sure that my annual gripe involving scalping at the Great American Beer Festival is enough for most.

But wouldn't it be nice if these scalpers had to eat the cost of the tickets they bought, either by being forced to sell them to legitimate Cigar City fans at face value, or being unable to use them at all and simply taking a loss?

I'll repeat the solution I offered after the Great American Beer Fest: Stop buying tickets from these guys. Offer to pay face value and refuse to pay a penny above it, or just don't buy them at all.

The number of tickets being sold by scalpers has remained relatively modest, supporting Redner's optimism. But as we approach March, surely many more will start popping up.

If Hunahpu's Day doesn't prove to be a profitable market for scalpers this year, then more tickets will go to the people who deserve them next time, without having to pay a ridiculous markup.

[email protected]

Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day sells out, becomes hot ticket for scalpers 01/30/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 3:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  2. A scene from "Epiphany."
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 22


    Clearwater Jazz Holiday: The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers, with their blend of folk, bluegrass and rock, lead the lineup. 1:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $16 per day, $45 reserved, $170 VIP. (727) 461-5200.

    AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15:  (L-R)  Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett, and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers pose for a portrait at the "May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 15, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 21


    Conor Oberst: The Bright Eyes mastermind will be joined by opener, the Felice Brothers. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30.50-$36. (727) 791-7400.

    Handout photo of Conor Oberst, performing Oct. 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Credit: Grandstand Media
  5. McDonald's soft serve in Florida is made with handshakes and happy cows


    Floridians licked nine million McDonald's vanilla cones last year.

    Calves play with a rubber toy at the Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee, FL. Owners Sutton Rucks, Jr., and his wife Kris Rucks sell their milk to SouthEast Dairies cooperative, Edward Coryn of Dairy Mix in St. Petersburg buys it, transforms it into soft-serve ice cream base, and sells it to all the McDonald's. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times