Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Patriots Sue StubHub

Just before Thanksgiving, the New England Patriots sued online ticket reseller, a former season ticket holder and former wait list member and other season ticket holders for reselling their tickets online.

The Complaint alleges that StubHub and the sellers interfere with the Patriots' advantageous relations with its fan base, misappropriate the Patriots' name and violate Massachusetts law. The complaint recites in great detail the various aspects of the team's goodwill. Through its season ticket program, the Patriots reward loyal fans by providing access to games at below market rates. Through the team-facilitated TeamExchange ticket exchange, the team provides season ticket holders and wait list members the ability to purchase tickets at face value plus a transaction cost, from season ticket holders who cannot attend certain games. This also benefits the selling season ticket holders by providing them a way to legally recoup the cost of tickets for games they can't attend.

The team argues that StubHub's online resale activities tarnish its goodwill. By controlling access to the stadium, the team provides a secure, fan-friendly experience. The team voids the season tickets of those who behave in an unacceptable manner. It appears from the complaint that many of those with voided season tickets have resold their voided tickets on StubHub. StubHub buyers then show up at the stadium and are denied access. When irate unknowing buyers are denied entry at the stadium, the team's goodwill is compromised and its resources are expended by having to deal with the defrauded buyers.

Lastly and most obviously, StubHub and the resellers who use its service violate Massachusetts law, which prohibits the resale of tickets by anyone who is not licensed and limits resale price to two dollars above face value plus a transaction cost. The exorbitant pure market prices on StubHub far exceed legal limits. It also represents a source of revenue based directly on the Patriots product, yet the Patriots have no share in it.

The suit seeks money damages and injunctive relief. It will be interesting to see how StubHub and the individual defendants respond. While the Patriots' arguments are strong, there are more violators to be dealt with than StubHub. This may be the first move by the typically aggressive franchise.

The complaint itself is accessible for those with access to the Massachusetts Superior Court's website It is docket number 06-4874 BLS. For those interested, I can email a pdf of the complaint.

My prediction about further action proved true. Sunday's Boston Globe business section features a story about the Patriots rescinding 38 season tickets held by former player Fred Smerlas, who along with radio personality Glen Ordway run, a business featuring access to pre-game tailgates and game tickets. Although Smerlas claims that the tickets are sold at face value within the packages he sells, the team has revoked his tickets for violation of "team policy."


Normally, I'd be on the side of StubHub on this one, but for the fact that the Pats have the ticket exchange program in place and operating.

However, on the larger issue, I've always wondered about the negative/positive effects of scalping. Seems a classic arbitrage situation -- little guy exploiting chinks in the system created to satisfy the big guy's needs.

Anonymous Collin -- 12/03/2006 11:05 AM  

Couldn't access the complaint, but two questions:

1) Does the Massachusetts ticket resale statute contain a private right of action?

2) Do the Patriots have a provision in their contract with season ticket holders that forbids resale in any venue other than the Patriots ticket exchange?

Anonymous PK -- 12/03/2006 12:09 PM  

PK -- I can email you a copy of the complaint if you wish. To answer your questions, the Massachusetts statute does not create a private right of action. I believe the Patriots, either on the tickets themselves or in the season ticket holder agreement state that it is illegal to resell the tickets in violation of Massachusetts law. In addition, in their lawsuit, they rely on the statute and on the common law claims of misappropriation and interference with advantageous relations. The team makes no money on the exchange program. It is an additional service provided to season ticket holders and wait list members to be able to recoup the costs of tickets for games they can't attend in a legal way.

Blogger Chris Callanan -- 12/03/2006 6:15 PM  

Collin, why is the fact the Pats have an exchange relevant to who is right or wrong, or legal? If you look at the much lower number of tickets on their exchange vs. StubHub or eBay it is clear where fans are on the issue. Chris, how can you say that the Pats don't benefit - the exchange has a cover charge - the $100 a seat to be the waiting list. Plus, once they wipe out the competition what is to stop them from raising prices? (hint: google "Ticketmaster fees" for a little glimpse of the future)

Anonymous TG -- 12/14/2006 3:23 AM  

Did they think StubHub would go meekly into the night?

Anonymous billy b -- 12/24/2006 12:02 AM  

good site

Anonymous businesscardsshop -- 12/29/2006 8:31 PM  

good site

Anonymous depression -- 12/29/2006 8:32 PM  

good site

Anonymous wifiplanets -- 12/29/2006 8:33 PM  

good site

Anonymous furnitures -- 12/29/2006 8:35 PM  

good site

Anonymous clickpoint -- 12/29/2006 8:37 PM  

Mind sending me a copy of that complaint? Can't seem to find it anywhere else on the net

Anonymous Anonymous -- 1/04/2007 2:21 PM  

I bought tixs from stubhub for the jet-patriot game. My envelope stated what I bought. My tix were not the same. I didnt realize until we were at the gate. After making a complaint stubhub told me the seller told them the tixs were comparable They also told me that I shouldn't have use the wrong tixs. With 10 min. to game time I went and sat in the worst seats.I dont think 45 yrd line tix in the sun are the same as 25 yrd line tixs in the shade. On top of it all e-bay buys stub hub so no one cares over there anymore. they are all getting paid. Forget stubhub. I hope the Pats put them out of biz!!!!!!!1

Anonymous Anonymous -- 1/12/2007 8:06 PM
Online Point And Click Games,
Click 2 News Houston,
Connection Settings Click Security Menu,

Anonymous clickpoint -- 4/09/2007 8:12 AM  

Now that states like New York have repealed their anti-scalping laws it kinda seems like Stubhub is not only here to stay but now there are new stubhubs popping up all over the place. I've used Stubhub and these other guys a handful times with no problems, except for wondering if the I got the best deal out there considering there's a ton of sites with tickets available. I've seen a couple sites out there that give a hand with this, one being who list what all this different stubhubs have in one place so you don't have to search around for the best deal. I'd say for the future places like that are the best bet.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 1/04/2008 7:01 PM  

Stub Hub is killing me over tickets that I posted twice but I did get this e-mail from them.. Does anyone believe I should be charged $1200 for replacment tickets after getting this confirmation?

Dear Douglas,

Your transaction has been cancelled. You will no longer be required to confirm
or ship the tickets for the event listed below. Please disregard any other
emails you may have received regarding this transaction. The tickets remain
yours to do with as you please. If there is enough time remaining, you can
repost these tickets.

Transaction #:
Event: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Tickets
Venue: Gillette Stadium
Date: December 09, 2007 04:15 (EST)
Ticket Cost: $440.00

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact customer
service by telephone at 866.StubHub (866.788.2482) or by email at

Anonymous doug -- 1/19/2008 8:55 AM  

Tell your story here:

Blogger -- 10/12/2008 8:43 PM  

Halk Bilimi
Türk Sanati

Anonymous Halk Bilimi -- 1/31/2009 4:09 PM  

Kulüpler Webmaster Kulüpler Kulüpler Topluluk

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/08/2009 5:05 PM  

Post a Comment