Now Batting For MLB: StubHub

Major League Baseball and StubHub officials are hoping they’ve hit a home run with the recent announcement of a ticketing partnership, marking a sea change for MLB after years of battling the secondary market.

"We believe this agreement reflects our commitment to providing dynamic platforms for fans to purchase tickets in authorized locations in the digital arena," said Bob Bowman, president and CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. "Secure, simple and fan-friendly. Those are the hallmarks of this national destination for all of our fans."

Under the five-year agreement, StubHub becomes the official online provider of secondary tickets for beginning with the 2008 season, and will gain exclusive rights to the online secondary ticket sales of each participating MLB team.

MLB owns and uses it for primary and secondary ticketing. also sells tickets for events other than baseball and links to Razorgator for some secondary ticketing. CEO Larry Witherspoon told Pollstar that will continue to honor its current relationships with Razorgator – the StubHub deal is with MLB, not

"It’s pretty simple," Witherspoon said. " continues to be a provider of primary with secondary ticketing for all of our customers. In the case of our baseball clients, StubHub has the exclusive rights within baseball to present the secondary market and we will work with them to make sure it happens seamlessly."

Many sports teams have shunned secondary ticketing in the past. The NFL’s New England Patriots filed suit against StubHub and fans using the site last November, claiming the company was violating the team’s rules against reselling tickets for profit. Baseball’s New York Yankees went so far as to revoke the season tickets of those found reselling them.

Still, the deal could prove to be a lucrative new source of income for MLB and the franchises that own it. Under the terms of the agreement, MLBAM will receive a share of StubHub’s revenues plus a fee, according to the New York Times. StubHub reportedly charges a combined 25 percent fee to buyers and sellers on each transaction.

More and more states have relaxed or dropped their scalping statutes altogether in recent years, taking a cue from what seems to be the public’s changing perception of the practice.

And as the first major sports league to sign an exclusive resale contract, MLB is working to give the fans what they want, Bowman told the Times.

"Clubs realize the secondary business is a vibrant business in baseball," he said. "Therefore it’s in the clubs’ interest to endorse it, embrace it, and make sure it’s a fan-friendly venue. Fans feel it’s safe and ethical and legitimate."

It remains somewhat unclear how the deal will affect MLB’s dealings with Ticketmaster, which provides primary ticketing services for a number of the league’s franchises, as well as secondary ticketing through its TicketExchange platform.

Ticketmaster said in a statement August 7th that it remains committed to working with MLB teams and MLBAM, and "each individual team or venue should make its own decision about how to provide a resale market to its fans … "

However, TM did counter StubHub’s pursuit of the MLB agreement.

"We think it is intellectually dishonest for StubHub to refuse to honor the resale exclusivity agreements of other ticketing companies and justify their behavior under the guise of ‘open and free markets’ while pursuing exclusivity in its own contracts that expressly forbid event organizers from providing alternate marketplaces for fans to buy and sell tickets," the statement said.

Ticketmaster filed suit against StubHub in April, claiming the company had interfered with TM’s contractual relations with clients after signing on as the "Official Premium Ticket Provider" for the Rowdy Frynds Tour.

TM has also filed suit against the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, claiming the team had breached its contract by establishing an arrangement with a paperless secondary-ticketing software system called Flash Seats. The Cavs countersued, claiming TM engages in anticompetitive practices