Bloom organisers paid Ticketmaster almost €480,000 over four years

Bord Bia to seek bids from ticketing providers for 2024 gardening show

State agency Bord Bia paid Ticketmaster almost €480,000 over four years for selling tickets to the Bloom gardening shows, figures show.

Bord Bia renewed its deal with Ticketmaster for one year to act as its agent for the annual gardening show in Phoenix Park, Dublin, after putting the contract out to tender late in 2022.

Figures show that the taxpayer-owned agency paid Ticketmaster €479,662.53 for ticket sales to Bloom shows run in 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023.

This year Ticketmaster, part of global entertainment giant Live Nation, charged €88,517.13 for the sale of tickets to the show, Bord Bia confirmed.


In 2022 the figure was €143,543.60 on total ticket sales of close to €1.6 million. In 2019 Bord Bia paid €127,054.80 for sales of €1.52 million, while the figure was €120,547 on total sales of €1.56 million in 2018.

Bord Bia said that the lower sum paid to Ticketmaster this year reflected a dip in ticket sales following a record attendance at Bloom in 2022, along with different pricing and reduced rates.

Bord Bia, responsible for promoting sales of Irish food abroad, said it received two responses to its tender for the 2023 Bloom show.

“The tender was for one year only [Bord Bia Bloom 2023] and we plan to retender for 2024 in the coming weeks,” said the organisation.

Ticketmaster does not “speak about individual client agreements”.

Nor does it reveal details of revenues or profits that its Irish business earns. Following a three-year investigation that ended in 2020, competition regulators found that in 2012-2018 it was the dominant player in the Irish market.

Their calculations showed that Ticketmaster had a 90 per cent share of the market. However, the multinational disputed this.

There is no evidence to indicate the company’s share has fallen sharply since then.

A Ticketmaster submission that formed part of its bid for the Bloom contract shows it has a long list of high-profile Irish clients. These include the GAA, the Irish Rugby Football Union, and three of its provinces – Leinster, Munster and Ulster, the Football Association of Ireland in the Republic, and Irish Football Association in the North.

The venues listed include Croke Park, the RDS, Aviva Stadium in Dublin and the SSE Arena in Belfast, as well as the Live Nation-owned 3Arena and Bord Gáis Theatre.

Music promoter MCD, another Live Nation subsidiary, is included, while Ticketmaster’s submission notes that Aiken Promotions is also a client.

Ticketmaster was the exclusive agent for the Coldplay concerts that will take place in Croke Park next August, and which sold out rapidly after they were offered to the public. The company was also the ticket agent for next year’s Taylor Swift concerts at the same venue. MCD is the promoter of both events.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) ordered MCD and Ticketmaster to operate at arms length, that is independently of each other and in their own individual interest, as a condition of allowing Live Nation to buy the music promoter in 2019.

A court order that came into effect in January 2021, following a CCPC investigation, bars Ticketmaster from agreeing exclusive deals with venues or from agreeing any exclusive contract with any live event organiser lasting more than three years.

Other conditions state Ticketmaster cannot have contracts lasting more than five years or have those contracts automatically renewed.

The CCPC imposed these conditions after its inquiry reached the preliminary finding that Ticketmaster had breached competition law by abusing its dominant position in the market. Ticketmaster rejected this and was never convicted of any offence.

Instead it agreed to the CCPC’s conditions and consented to have them made an order of the High Court.

Irish law allows any organisation investigated by the commission to avoid legal proceedings by entering an agreement that addresses any competition concerns the regulator raises.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas