MANHATTAN (CN) – Madison Square Garden, owner of the New York Rangers, filed a federal antitrust complaint against the National Hockey League, claiming “the NHL has become an illegal cartel” that restrains trade.
The Garden claims the NHL has illegally restricted “off-ice competition between and among the NHL member clubs,” by threatening “abusive and outrageous fines unless the Rangers and MSG capitulate to the League’s illegal demands”. The Garden says it has “no choice except litigation,” because “the NHL threatened to impose a $100,000 per day fine on MSG beginning on Friday, Sept. 28, unless MSG transferred to the League virtually complete control over the Rangers independently produced Web site, including the valuable ‘nyrangers.com’ address, which the League then planned to convert into one of 30 ‘cookie-cutter’ Web sites housed on ‘nhl.com’ and controlled by the NHL.” Rangers fans can buy tickets and souvenirs and watch video clips of games on the site. “The NHL has no competitive justification for seizing the Rangers Web site, which MSG today uses as a competitive tool to generate and maintain fan interest in the Rangers in competition with other NHL teams,” the suit states. Represented by Jones Day, the Garden demands an injunction and costs.