SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal class action accuses the San Francisco 49ers and Ticketmaster of conspiring to drive up ticket resale prices by monopolizing the secondary market for 49ers tickets.
Lead plaintiff Amir Kazemzadeh sued the 49ers and Ticketmaster on Wednesday, alleging antitrust violations and trespass to chattels.
Kazemzadeh claims that this year, for the first time, the 49ers blocked him and other season ticketholders from getting their tickets until 72 hours before game time.
In previous seasons, Kazemzadeh says, he could print his tickets in advance and give them as gifts or post them for sale on websites such as stubhub.
For the coming season, the only way season ticketholders can resell tickets before the 3-day limit is through Ticketmaster’s NFL Ticket Exchange website, which charges high fees and conceals its floor price for resold tickets, according to the 18-page lawsuit.
The complaint cites a 2014 Forbes column in which Steve Pociask wrote that Ticketmaster “sets an arbitrary price floor on tickets, a floor that is undisclosed to the purchaser. It is the NFL’s attempt to take over the secondary market and keep ticket prices, which were already sold once, from being resold at low prices.”
The lawsuit also cites a 2010 FTC complaint against Ticketmaster for steering customers to a website where they unknowingly paid up to four times the face value of tickets for concerts and other events in 2008 and 2009.
Kazemzadeh claims the conspiracy restrains competition in the secondary ticket market, reducing the number of 49ers tickets for sale on other websites while increasing the number on the NFL Ticket Exchange.
The NFL is not a party to the complaint.
Ticketmaster’s NFL Ticket Exchange charges buyers 15 percent extra, with a 10 percent surcharge for season ticketholders and a 15 percent service fee, the complaint estimates.
“Competition by and among ticket websites would produce consumer benefits, including by stabilizing ticket prices and associated fees,” Kazemzadeh says.
He says the 49ers and Ticketmaster blocked his access to his own tickets: property that he rightfully owns.
“On a commercial level, you’re being mandated to go through Ticketmaster, which charges a higher rate,” said Kazemzadeh’s attorney, Abbas Kazerounian.
“You’re being forced into one channel of commerce, which is the Ticketmaster avenue.”
Kazerounian said the size of Ticketmaster’s transaction fees suggests the 49ers are “getting a piece” of the action, and that this “double dipping” restricts consumer choice and competition.
Kazemzadeh seeks class certification, an injunction, disgorgement and distribution of money received, and punitive damages.
Neither Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, nor the San Francisco 49ers responded to requests for comment.
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