Could the Browns someday work to eliminate Steelers fans from Browns games? Wouldn’t that be sweet? Could they only sell tickets to fans who live in a certain area? Those two questions will be answered soon, it would appear, thanks to a lawsuit filed by a 49ers fan against the Seattle Seahawks.
I’m fascinated by this lawsuit. On the one hand, I get that the Seahawks really wanted to keep their stadium filled with Seahawks fans for their playoff game against the 49ers. It’s understandable in a playoff environment where you know a game is going to sell out. But even though it makes sense to me, did it violate any laws?
“The practice of withholding the sale of tickets from the public at large and allowing only credit card holders limited to certain areas is a violation of the Federal Consumer Fraud Act and/or common law,” according to the lawsuit filed April 15.
In the case of January’s game, the Seahawks limited ticket sales only to credit cards with addresses in the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.
I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t have much of an opinion on how this should turn out, but I’m interested nonetheless. Also brought into the equation for the fan, John E. Williams III, is the NFL’s reliance on public subsidies and money from taxpayers to build stadiums. I’m not sure if that helps or hurts his cause though, because public subsidies and taxpayers are garnered locally to build that stadium.
The future of the 12th man isn’t exactly hanging in the balance. Regardless of the outcome, I’m guessing Seattle’s homefield advantage will remain substantial whenever the team is good. Still, it will be interesting to see if this new territory in ticketing is legal or not.
Recently, the Columbus Blue Jackets did something similar for their playoff opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They restricted credit card sales to Ohio in an effort to pack the house with hometown fans. Pittsburgh has often had a very sizable Penguins crowd when playing in Columbus.