NFL Teams Urged By Ticket Brokers To End Resale Limits

Law360, New York (February 2, 2017, 8:03 PM EST) -- The National Association of Ticket Brokers has called on the NFL teams to stop ticket resale price floors and to end other ticket sale restrictions that harm the resale ticket market, in light of the NFL’s recent settlement with several state attorneys general, saying taxpayers have already committed over $6 billion to finance NFL stadiums over the past 20 years.

The NATB, a nonprofit trade group representing ticket buyers and sellers on the secondary market, said Monday that despite spending billions of dollars in financing stadiums, “taxpaying-fans continue to be exploited by teams and experience unfair practices that restrict the purchase, sale and transfer of their tickets.”

The group estimates that taxpayers have spent $6.3 billion in public financing for NFL stadiums or stadium renovations since 1995.

“What these football teams are doing is anti-competitive, abusive and smacks of hypocrisy when they rely on billions in taxpayer funding to build or renovate the stadiums where they play while restricting taxpayers’ ability to sell or transfer their tickets as they wish,” NATB Executive Director and General Counsel Gary Adler said in a statement.

As part of a multistate settlement agreement led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and unveiled in November, the NFL has agreed to discontinue a league policy that required all 32 of its teams to not allow their tickets be resold on the NFL’s Ticket Exchange hosted by Ticketmaster and affiliated websites for less than face value. The NFL also agreed to end other ticket resale restrictions. Attorneys general from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., joined with Schneiderman in the deal.

But that settlement did not directly apply to individual teams, and the NATB said that teams are continuing to “restrict the open market transferability of tickets” and encroach on the secondary market to bring in additional profit after the team has already profited off the sale of the tickets.

“It’s blatantly harmful to consumers and market competition, and unless teams individually do what is fair and end these practices, lawmakers should take action,” Adler said. “Teams are paid their full asking price including fees and taxes at the initial ticket sale and should not be able to dictate how a ticketholder might resell his or her ticket, including imposing a second round of fees.”

The NATB said teams are restricting the resale market by charging fees — sometimes up to 20 percent in extra fees on the NFL’s ticket exchange — on resale, restricting how and where paperless tickets can be transferred or sold, or by unilaterally imposing their own price floors.

Regulation of the secondary ticket market has raised several legal concerns, as there are competing interests of making tickets more accessible and avoiding ticket scams. In January 2016, Schneiderman had released an investigation report that said his office found several issues with the resale of sports and entertainment event tickets. The attorney general alleged that price floors, like the one imposed by the NFL, harm consumers by limiting access to tickets and inflating prices.

A representative for the NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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