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Tickets.com expands through acquisitions

The competitor to TicketMaster-CitySearch announces it will acquire TicketsLive and TicketStop in an effort to boost its market presence and add venues.

In a bid to ensure there will be at least two major players in the online ticketing market, Tickets.com, which is merging with Advantix, announced two more acquisitions designed to expand the number of venues it services.

Privately held Tickets.com/Advantix, which will be known as Tickets.com after the merger, is acquiring TicketsLive, which runs an electronic transaction network. In addition, Tickets.com said it is buying TicketStop, whose Windows-based software is used by 800 small and mid-sized venues.

Tickets.com, which owns the 1-800-TICKETS phone number, has been adding inventory through mergers in an attempt to catch up with rival Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, a publicly traded company that dominates the small but fast-growing online ticketing market.

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch sells tickets for more than 3,000 venues, far more than Advantix's 1,400. TicketsLive software is used in 1,800 venues, Tickets.com said, while TicketStop's system is installed in more than 800 venues.

But when it comes to online sales, Tickets.com and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch shouldn't be compared in terms of venues, said Tom Gimple, the CEO of Advantix who is slated to become Tickets.com's CEO once the merger is complete. "We're not Ticketmaster, and we're not claiming to be," Gimple said. "But we're aggregating those venues that have not had electronic distribution and have not had a national or worldwide brand."

Tickets.com also presents itself as a more consumer-friendly alternative to TicketMaster Online-CitySearch, because it provides information on where to buy all tickets, even for venues with which it does not have a contract. Even with the greater inventory the two acquisitions bring, Tickets.com will continue to do that, Gimple said.

The acquisition of TicketsLive should also give Advantix a leg up in the overseas market. Forty percent of TicketsLive's venues are located outside the United States, according to Gimple.

Also today, Tickets.com said it raised $30 million in new capital. New investors include Jackson International, an investment firm backed by Michael Jackson and IMG/Chase Sports Capital Partners. IMG is a major sports management and marketing firm.