StubHub Hit With Lawsuit

The New England Patriots filed suit against ticket reseller StubHub November 21st in a Massachusetts superior court, claiming the company encourages violations of anti-scalping laws as well as the team’s own rules against reselling tickets for profit.

Tickets for concerts, shows and sporting events can be legally resold in all 50 states, but Massachusetts is one of 17 that limits how much a reseller can tack on to the original price.

The Patriots’ suit states that, in hosting its secondary-ticketing market Web site, StubHub allows patrons to resell tickets for prices that often exceed what state law permits – a markup of $2 per ticket.

The suit also names two people who allegedly resold season tickets on StubHub that had been canceled by the team, as well as 50 unnamed season ticket holders who resold tickets on the site.

In filing the suit, the team is seeking three times the revenue made by the company and the individual resellers, and an injunction against the further resale of Patriots tickets on StubHub.

StubHub spokesman Sean Pate told Pollstar in a statement that, although the company could not comment on the specifics of any lawsuit, “under no circumstance does StubHub ever advocate or encourage fans to break Massachusetts scalping laws. In fact, to the contrary, all ticket sellers on StubHub commit to our user agreement, which states that you are obligated to follow any state or local ticket resale restrictions.

“We make no mention in any marketing materials of ticket values or going rates,” Pate said. “Simply that selling extra tickets can be done on StubHub.”

But representatives for the team disagreed that StubHub holds no responsibility for the transactions that take place on its site.

Daniel Goldberg, an attorney representing the Patriots, told the Boston Globe that the company encourages people to resell on its site without warning buyers that tickets purchased through StubHub could be invalid.

“If you’re encouraging people to list their tickets for sale, if you’re doing that knowing that these tickets have an expressed prohibition against reselling and they’re not telling them what the risks are, I think that’s an issue,” Goldberg said. “Our experience is that as the listings on StubHub have increased, so also have the number of people who show up at the stadium with invalid tickets.”

The team, which conducts primary ticket transactions through Ticketmaster, does permit season ticket holders to resell at face value on a Web site it controls. That way, buyers can be assured of the validity of the tickets purchased on the site.

Still, Pate explained that patrons could be certain that tickets purchased through the StubHub were not “counterfeit” or “fake.”

“The only issues that have been experienced are tickets that have been invalidated by the team themselves where the purchasers of those tickets were turned away at the gate,” Pate said. “All buyers who were affected by these team-invalidated tickets either received replacement tickets on site, or in the situations of later notification, a complete refund of all charges, fees and shipping for their inconvenience.”

–Dana Parker-McClain