Musical theater fans were in a frenzy Wednesday morning as tickets went on sale for "Hamilton" - the blockbuster musical that comes to Charlotte Oct. 10 - Nov. 4.
But the excitment turned to frustratation after some 8,000 bots flooded the website and ultimately shut down online ticket sales, according to a series of tweets posted by Blumenthal Performing Arts.
"We are so sorry for the continued delay in online sales for Hamilton in Charlotte," the performing arts organization tweeted shortly after 9:30 a.m., roughly an hour and a half after ticket sales went live. "We have learned the technical issue is related to bot prevention software that detected more than 8,000 bots trying to influence the official on sale around 6 a.m."
9:30am update: We are so sorry for the continued delay in online sales for Hamilton in Charlotte. We have learned the technical issue is related to bot prevention software that detected more than 8,000 bots trying to influence the official on sale around 6am.
— Blumenthal Performing Arts (@BlumenthalArts) August 1, 2018
Shortly after, Blumenthal announced that online sales would be temporarily halted as staff worked to find a fix. By 10:20 a.m., online sales had resumed, at which point more than 83,000 people were waiting for tickets on the website.
Tom Gabbard, CEO of Blumenthal Performing Arts, said he believed the bots were deployed by sophisticated scalpers who planned to buy up bundles of the tickets and resell them. He said the organization was prepared to handle the situation, and would be taking additional measures in the lead up to the show to ensure tickets are only being sold to real people.
"We're going to take the next few weeks and scrub the database and look for any kind of broker or bot activity," Gabbard said, "We want to make sure that (the tickets) are going to real fans."
In addition to online sales, Blumenthal offered in-person ticket sales at the uptown box office beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday. People began lining up outside the box office as early as 2:30 a.m., according to Gabbard. The in-person tickets were sold out within an hour-and-a-half.