Want Free Central Park Concert Tickets? Keep Trying.

NYT Music

Plenty of things require patience in life. Cobbling together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle while in lockdown comes to mind, as does doing your nails — basecoat, color, topcoat.

Now add to that list waiting in the virtual line for tickets to “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert.”

Yes, they are free. Yes, there are more than four million fully vaccinated New Yorkers who qualify to attend. And the lineup for the Aug. 21 show — including LL Cool J, Bruce Springsteen and punk rock goddess Patti Smith — was sure to draw some interest.

So perhaps it was no surprise that I found my first attempt a ticketless dead end, an exercise in frustration.

It began at 10 a.m. Monday, when the free tickets first went up online. I learned quickly that to get a ticket you need a Ticketmaster account. So began a frantic scramble to remember my own.

That was followed by a long wait in line, locked in a staring contest with a glowing white orb that represented my place in “The Queue.” I was told, with cold precision, that more than 2,000 people were ahead of me.

But by 10:41 a.m. I was at the end of my road. Suddenly, the oval signifying the availability of general admission tickets faded from blue to gray.

As in, No Longer Available.

But New Yorkers wait online for a living. So on Tuesday, at 7 a.m., ready for Round 2, I clicked on the “We Love NYC” block on the Homecoming2021.com website. Sure enough, the previously gray, “unavailable” general admission block had been replenished with tickets and was now blue. At the edge of my seat, I selected two tickets and hit “Next.”

“Sit tight, we’re securing your Verified Tickets,” the screen read. But then, as I refreshed, I began getting the same error message — “Sorry, we could not process your request, please try again later.” I tried for another hour and it did seem as if more tickets became available after the first batches were gone. But each time I got shut out.

But there are success stories out there, people. I know early risers who had better experiences than I did. And all you have to do is go to Stub Hub to witness how many people have scored free tickets and now hope someone will pay dearly for them: A lot of those were on sale Tuesday, some as low as $48, general admission, all the way up to $12,789. Selling the free tickets is “violating the spirit of this historic concert,” a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said on Tuesday.

The city has not said how many tickets are made available each day. (Those interested can try again on Wednesday at 9 p.m., Thursday at 7 a.m., Friday at 10 a.m. or on Saturday at 9 p.m.) Clive Davis, the producer, has said he is looking for a crowd of about 60,000 on the Great Lawn and the mayor’s office has said that 80 percent of the tickets were going to be free.

Now the good news for some is that if you fancy yourself a V.I.P., and are looking to spend from $399 to $3,450 or even up to $4,950 — tickets for those seats seem easier to get.

The most expensive tickets — platinum V.I.P.s — promise seats right in front of the stage, entry into an exclusive backstage lounge featuring a “Complimentary Eclectic Selection of Hors D’Oeuvres,” an open bar and a special entrance.

The gold V.I.P. tickets, price tag $3,450, include seating just behind platinum and all the comforts, food and drink of the backstage lounge, plus that special entrance.

For $399, you still get a good ticket, but wave goodbye to that backstage lounge. Still, there will be a dedicated concessions area — and V.I.P. restroom facilities.

Everyone — the free, the V.I.P.s and the V.I.P.s of the V.I.P.s — has to present proof of vaccination to enter the concert, either by showing up in person with their vaccination card or a photo of it, the New York City COVID SAFE App or the New York State Excelsior Pass. And if you can’t score a ticket, CNN will air the concert live.

At an online news conference Monday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio was excited that the tickets were being distributed.

“This is going to be amazing,” he said, “and it’s going to be a great sign of New York City’s rebirth.”


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