Class Says NFL Shakes Down Fans, Who Get Just 1% of Super Bowl Tix
NEWARK (CN) - A federal class action claims the NFL is unjustly enriching itself and violating state law by following its traditional practice of allowing only 1 percent of Super Bowl tickets to be sold to the public at face value.
Just 775 of the 77,500 tickets for this year's Super Bowl will be available at face value to the general public.
Lead plaintiff Josh Finkelman cites a 2001 New Jersey consumer fraud law - N.J.S.A. 56:8-35.1 - which prohibits withholding of more than 5 percent of seating for any event from the general public. The Legislature passed the law to prevent price gouging.
In the two-count lawsuit, Finkelman claims the NFL unjustly enriches itself by violating the state's consumer fraud law.
The NFL allots Super Bowl tickets to insiders and corporations, leaving few tickets available for common sports fans.
Super Bowl XLVIII will be held on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.J. It has a seating capacity of 77,500.
Of these 77,500 seats, the complaint states, the NFL will allow the general public 775 tickets, or 1 percent.
"These tickets are distributed via a random drawing from entries submitted from February to March of the previous year," the complaint states. "Those who are selected can then purchase tickets at the face value of the tickets.
"The remaining tickets are distributed with seventy-five percent (75%), split among the thirty-two (32) NFL teams: five percent (5%) to the host team, seventeen and a half percent (17.5%) to each team represented in the Super Bowl, while thirty-five percent (35%) are split among the remaining twenty-nine (29) teams, with each getting 1.2%. The remaining twenty-five percent (25%) is controlled by the NFL for distribution to companies, broadcast networks, media sponsors, the host committee and other league insiders." (Parentheses in complaint).
Finkelman claims that the individual NFL teams do not make their allotments of Super Bowl tickets available to the general public, but offer them to resellers.
These resellers have "lucrative contracts" with the NFL and their franchises and purchase tickets in bulk to regular season games "to secure a small allotment of Super Bowl tickets."
This secondary market allows resellers to grossly inflate the price of tickets and sell them in costly packages that include transportation, hotels and other entertainment.
One package for the upcoming game is selling for more than $18,000 per person.
"According to the NFL itself, research on the secondary market during the 2013 Super Bowl shows that many six hundred dollar ($600.00) tickets sold for three thousand dollars ($3,000.00), while seats near midfield went for up to six thousand, one hundred dollars ($6,100.00) and premium club seats went for six thousand, four hundred dollars ($6,400.00) - multiples of their seat value," the complaint states.
Despite having tax-exempt status that saves it millions of dollars, and despite being paid $4 billion by networks this season for rights to broadcast games, the NFL is planning to nearly double the price of tickets for Super Bowl XLVIII, the class claims.
"It is anticipated that tickets to club-level mezzanine seats will sell for approximately two thousand, six hundred dollars ($2,600.00) per ticket, up from the same ticket selling for one thousand, two hundred fifty dollars ($1,250.00) at the 2013 Super Bowl game in New Orleans.
"MetLife's seating capacity of approximately 77,500 seats will bring in revenues that could exceed two hundred million dollars ($200,000,000). "
Finkelman seeks class certification, an injunction, and damages for unjust enrichment and violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
He is represented by Bruce Nagel with Nagel Rice, of Roseland.