Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Fans Lose Suit Over Super Bowl Ticket Prices

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Calling Super Bowl tickets the ultimate example of an event where demand far exceeds supply, the Third Circuit spiked a fraud class action Thursday.

Josh Finkelman and Ben Hoch-Parker brought the case at hand in New Jersey after their experience trying to attend Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

While Finkelman bought two tickets in the secondary market at $2,000 each, Hoch-Parker ended up not buying any tickets because the cheapest seat he could find would have set him back $4,200.

In reporting on the early ticket sales back in 20113, the Wall Street Journal said the nosebleed seats were going for $500 but that tickets otherwise saw a massive hike in price. Tickets averaged that year at $2,646 .

Finkelman and Hoch-Parker complained that the NFL made only 1 percent of tickets with a face value of $800 to $1,900 available to the general public, distributing the rest among NFL franchises that can distribute them as they wish, including selling them to secondary markets.

A federal judge wound up dismissing their case, which alleged violation of a New Jersey law that bars event hosts from withholding more than 5 percent of their tickets from sale to the general public.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit affirmed.

"To state the problem succinctly: we have no way of knowing whether the NFL's withholding of tickets would have had the effect of increasing or decreasing prices on the secondary market," Judge Julio Fuentes wrote for the court. "We can only speculate - and speculation is not enough to sustain Article III standing."

As for the "rarely litigated New Jersey statute" on which the fans relied, Fuentes said it had apparently only been used once in state courts since its 2002 passage.

The 39-page opinion notes that both of plaintiffs admitted that they had not entered the league's lottery to purchase tickets at face value.

Fuentes likened the situation to concertgoers who sue for inflated ticket prices without having waited in line.

Hoch-Parker made much ado about a $1,000 limit he did not want to exceed per ticket, but Fuentes noted that his threshold would have in reach even if the NFL had released all tickets to the public.

"Thus, while it might be the case that the NFL's withholding increased ticket prices on the resale market, it might also be the case that it had no effect on the resale market," Fuentes wrote.

The court called Hoch-Parker's lack of standing particularly striking, as he bought no tickets and therefore "suffered no more injury than any of the possibly tens of thousands of people who thought about purchasing a ticket to the Super Bowl and chose not to."

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