Jazz Sued Over Elite Seats

A group of self-described “elite” Utah Jazz fans has sued the team’s corporate parent for $19 million, claiming a new seating policy has caused their VIP seats to plummet in value by taking away their exclusive ownership rights.

Members of the Jazz 100 Club filed their complaint June 4 in Utah’s 3rd District Court over a January policy change allowing all season-ticket holders to transfer ownership rights to their seats in EnergySolutions Arena.

Under the Transfer Marketplace program, their rights to seats can be transferred through an exchange operated by the Jazz, which receives 30 percent of the sale price.

Previously, only 220 courtside seats that were held by the 50-60 club members could be sold or bequeathed, an exclusivity that increased their value.

The suit claims the value of seats held by the club as plunged 90 percent, causing an overall loss of $16 million.

Club president Alan Melchior said seat positions that once sold for as much as $200,000 now go for $20,000.

“This is a major windfall for season ticket holders becase they have not paid for the benefit,” Melchior told the Desert News. “This makes a huge difference. It negates the value of the seat positions.”

According to the complaint, club members are “some of the most successful and influential individuals and companies Utah, who have paid millions of dollars for their memberships.”

The club was created in 1987 by late Jazz owner Larry Miller as a “selective organization that entitled its members to exclusive rights and privileges,” including a stake in the team, ownership of “some of the best seats” in EnergySolutions Arena and a 20 percent discount on season tickets.

Club members also allege the Jazz overbilled them by millions of dollars for benefits such as meals and trips.

Jazz Communications VP Linda Luchetti said the team takes the matter seriously and its legal department is reviewing the suit. A Jazz spokesperson was not immediately available for further comment.