StubHub Sues NBA’s Warriors & Ticketmaster

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Online ticket reseller StubHub claims in a federal antitrust lawsuit that the Golden State Warriors are telling fans to resell their season tickets through Ticketmaster or lose their season tickets altogether.
     “If you are a Warriors fan and you want season tickets, you have one choice: Buy them through Ticketmaster,” StubHub said in its Sunday lawsuit.
     StubHub, an online marketplace owned by eBay, claims the Warriors threatened to revoke its ticket privileges unless it agreed to resell exclusively through Ticketmaster’s exchange, NBAtickets.com.
     The deal would preclude fans from buying playoff tickets on StubHub, unless they want to be denied season tickets next year.
     “In short, defendants have offered a Hobson’s Choice to Warriors fans: Use Ticketmaster’s Secondary Ticket Exchange exclusively or forfeit your Warriors tickets altogether. To Warriors fans, this is effectively no choice at all,” StubHub says in the 35-page lawsuit.
     The complaint cites interactions in which fans complained about the Warriors’ restrictive resale policy.
     “As one season ticket holder recounted, when he told a Warriors representative that selling only through Ticketmaster ‘is tedious and borderline impossible for the amount of seats that I have,’ the representative pushed back intractably: ‘Well, you’d better figure out how to get on [Ticketmaster’s] Tickets Now quickly.” According to the season ticketholder, “It was more of a threat than a suggestion or recommendation.”
     Another season ticketholder was quoted in the complaint as saying that the Warriors’ policy and enforcement “‘seemed more like a Mafia tactic … than [that of] a supposedly fan-friendly sports franchise.'”
     Demand for Warriors tickets has skyrocketed in recent years.
     The Warriors have sold out 118 home games in a row and more than 10,000 people allegedly are on its season ticket waiting list. The team secured the top spot in West with its 60th win on Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
     StubHub claims the Warriors’ and Ticketmaster’s anti-competitive tactics have artificially increased their share of Warriors’ tickets sold on the secondary market “in excess of 50 percent,” and that StubHub’s supply of Warriors’ tickets is down by roughly 80 percent compared to last year.
     “This is not just a problem for Warriors fans. It is a looming threat for all sports fans,” StubHub says in the lawsuit.
     “If defendants’ misconduct is allowed to continue, Ticketmaster and other sports franchises will have the economic incentive to engage in similar anticompetitive efforts to artificially reduce competition in the secondary ticket exchange services for their respective teams’ tickets. These franchises will do this in order to secure additional profits that they could not obtain in a competitive resale market.”
     StubHub wants an injunction against the Warriors and Ticketmaster for federal and state antitrust law violations and unfair competition.
     It is represented by Stephen Bomse and Shannon Leong, with Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe in San Francisco.

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