NEWARK (CN) – A federal antitrust complaint accuses the New York Giants and Jets football teams of fixing prices and forcing season ticketholders to buy “personal seat licenses” for the New Meadowlands Stadium, where the teams will play. The class claims this constitutes unfair trade and consumer fraud.
The complaint says the football teams violated “federal antitrust laws, and state common law arising out of agreements entered into, and actions taken, by the defendants – owners and affiliates of the New York Giants and New York Jets professional football teams – to jointly build and operate NMS [New Meadowlands Stadium], the only stadium in the New York City metropolitan area with a seating capacity in excess of 75,000, and to finance several hundred million dollars of the cost to build the New Stadium by creating personal seat licenses with unfair and onerous provisions and requiring Plaintiff and members of the Class to purchase a PSL as a mandatory condition for being able to purchase a Season Ticket to attend the home games played by the Jets or Giants in the 2010 NFL Season and thereafter.”
The complaint continues: “Plaintiff seeks to represent the proposed Class and two sub-classes (defined below) of persons who were, and are being, injured by Defendants’ unconscionable business practices and anti-competitive acts and agreements pursuant to which Defendants have, inter alia:
(A) announced the termination of the contractual rights and expectations of Class Members who purchase Season Tickets to attend all home games played by the Jets or Giants during the 2009 NFL season (a ‘2009 Season Ticket’) to be able to purchase Season Tickets for the 2010 NFL Season and successive NFL Seasons each year thereafter (‘Renewal Rights’) without any compensation to be provided to the Plaintiff and members of the Class;
(B) created PSLs with unfair contractual terms, including illegal forfeiture provisions that enable Defendants to confiscate PSLs purchased by Class Members, without any obligation to provide compensation for such confiscated PSLs, in the event that the Class Members do not purchase and pay for a Season Ticket for all home games played by the Jets or Giants during the 2010 NFL season (a ‘2010 Season Ticket’) at the prices, and by the dates, that have been set by Defendants and then continue to purchase a new Season Ticket each and every year thereafter, through at least 2025 and most likely through 2040 or longer, at whatever prices are set by the Defendants in the future;
(C) coerced Plaintiff and the Class to agree to purchase PSLs by, (i) interfering with, and unilaterally terminating, Plaintiff’s and the Class Members’ contractual Renewal Rights, and (ii) tying the purchase of a PSL to the purchase of a 2010 Season Ticket;
(D) fixed the prices for PSLs and 2010 Season Tickets at artificial, supra-competitive prices that were established by Defendants to maximize near term revenue and profits in order to enable them to repay short-term loans that were jointly obtained from the NFL to finance a large portion of the up-front costs of demolishing Giants Stadium and building NMS; and
(E) erected barriers to competition in the markets for several products sold by Defendants within the 30-mile radius of New York, New York (the ‘N.Y. Metropolitan Area’) so as to reduce or eliminate competition in such markets, which include the local markets for, (i) the rental of arenas with a seating capacity in excess of 75,000 people (a ‘large-capacity facility’); (ii) the sale of tickets to large-scale theatrical, musical, sporting, and other types of events that are required to be, and are, staged at large-capacity facilities (‘large-scale events’); and (iii) the sale of leases for luxury suites in spectator arenas in the N.Y. Metropolitan Area.”
Plaintiffs’ lead counsel is James Bashian of Hoboken, N.J.