StubHub Sues Patriots

Following a lawsuit filed by the New England Patriots against StubHub last month, the ticket reseller has filed a countersuit in a Massachusetts superior court that makes some strong charges against the team and Ticketmaster.

StubHub’s suit notes that the defendants, the Patriots, and non-party "co-conspirator" Ticketmaster jointly control virtually all of the primary market ticket sales in the greater Boston area.

The Patriots also have an exclusive contract to use TeamExchange, a secondary ticketing service operated under the umbrella of the Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange.

In its complaint, StubHub says the team and Ticketmaster "seek to use their monopoly in the relevant primary market to eliminate competition in the relevant secondary market."

The Patriots have previously revoked the tickets of some fans found to be reselling on StubHub, and Ticketmaster has recently announced a number of exclusive resale contracts with nine sports franchises, six college football bowls and more than 60 venues nationwide.

Besides allegations of monopoly, the countersuit also claims that the team and Ticketmaster are guilty of scalping violations.

Although tickets for concerts, shows and sporting events can be legally resold in all 50 states, Massachusetts is one of 17 that limits how much a reseller can tack on to the original price – a markup of $2 per ticket.

StubHub contends that the team itself is "engaging in illegal price fixing," as well as "violating through TeamExchange the very same statute on ticket resale that the Patriots wrongly contend is implicated by StubHub’s operations."

Fans who join a waitlist for Patriots tickets pay a deposit of $100 per seat and a 10 percent service fee for tickets sold through TeamExchange.

Patriots attorney Dan Goldberg told the Boston Globe the maximum fee collected by TeamExchange – which goes directly to Ticketmaster – is $12.50, or 10 percent of the highest priced tickets sold for $120, calling the countersuit "ridiculous."

"It is, frankly, a foolish claim when you think about it," Goldberg said.

VP and General Counsel for Ticketmaster Joe Freeman agreed.

"We don’t typically comment on litigation, particularly lawsuits involving a client," Freeman told Pollstar. "But Stubhub is trying to divert attention from its responsibilities under Massachusetts law and to the Patriots by blaming Ticketmaster when we’re not even a party to the litigation. Stubhub’s counterclaims have been described by the Patriots as ‘foolish’ and we agree that they are entirely without merit."

One state senator who is attempting to rewrite ticketing laws told the Boston Globe the legal dispute represents just how complicated the matter has become.

"The Massachusetts law is well intentioned but unenforceable," Senator Michael Morrissey said. "Technology has bypassed the law."

Currently crafting a bill to address secondary ticketing market operations, the senator said he will also address some aspects of primary market ticket sales by possibly imposing caps on service fees charged by companies like Ticketmaster and regulating venue’s facility fees, the paper reported.