11 Jan 2009

Obama inaugural parade seats sell out

7:10 am on 11 January 2009

In less than a minute, 5,000 tickets were sold for highly-prized seats along the US presidential inauguration parade route, the ticket sales company Ticketmaster says.

Tickets for seats set up between the US Capitol and the White House on a route to be travelled by the new president Barack Obama and his vice president Joe Biden were made available at 1pm on Friday (local time) at a cost of $US25 dollars each.

The vast majority of seats to witness the swearing-in ceremony and the inaugural parade on 20 January are reserved for elite guests, dignitaries and Washington insiders.

A Ticketmaster spokesman said that 94% of sales were made online and 6% took place over the telephone.

The tickets quickly appeared on other websites where they were offered for resale at prices of up to $US300 dollars, 10 times their original price.

Online forums were ablaze with critics of those trying to make a quick buck on the tickets.

Ticket-holders will secure the coveted bleacher seats along the parade route, while hundreds of thousands more are expected to stand along the 2.7-kilometre parade route.

Tickets are not needed to stand along the route, but first-come first-serve spots along Pennsylvania Avenue are likely to be hard to come by for the throngs of visitors.

Organisers expect at least two million people on the National Mall to witness Mr Obama being sworn in.