Scalper Wars: StubHub Sues Golden State Warriors, Ticketmaster

Golden State Warriors Fans AP

A federal lawsuit brought by StubHub charges that the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster not only profit from the scalping of tickets on the secondary market but that they employ monopolistic practices to shut out competition as well.

“The Warriors are not opposed to tickets being resold and they’re not opposed to tickets being resold above face value,” StubHub general counsel Michelle Fang insists to Breitbart Sports. “They just want a second bite of the apple. The Warriors have no issue with doing what some might call ‘scalping.’ They just want to collect fees on it.”

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco alleges that through advertising, terms-and-conditions agreements, and aggressive monitoring the Golden State Warriors engage in anti-competitive practices that attempt to block season-ticket holders from using the eBay-owned StubHub that has forged a multibillion-dollar business through enabling ticket holders to resell their seats through a regulated, online market. The litigation relies in part on the Sherman Antitrust Act and the subsequent Clayton Antitrust Act.

The suit reads:

This case concerns an anticompetitive scheme designed and employed by the Golden State Warriors and its exclusive ticketing partner Ticketmaster to create and exploit a captured monopoly Secondary Ticket Exchange by illegally excluding competition from providers of Secondary Ticket Exchange services. The Warriors and Ticketmaster have attempted to effectuate their monopolistic goal by forcing Warriors fans to use only Secondary Ticket Exchange services provided by the Warriors, through Ticketmaster, for the resale of Warriors tickets. They have set out to achieve this illegal outcome for a single purpose: to reap service fees and profits that they could not earn in a competitive Secondary Ticket Exchange environment. These conspiratorial actions have harmed and will continue to substantially harm Warriors fans, Plaintiff StubHub and competition in the market for Secondary Ticket Exchange services for Warriors tickets.

The litigation threatens to influence franchises beyond the Golden State Warriors and open up competition in the secondary market for all NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL tickets.

“We have seen this type of conduct with other teams and with other leagues,” StubHub’s general counsel Michelle Fang tells Breitbart Sports, citing a new Pittsburgh Penguins “terms and conditions” rider that strikes her as particularly onerous. “From what we are aware of the Warriors situation is the most extreme.”

“StubHub is quite concerned,” Stephen Bomse, the attorney filing the suit, explained to Breitbart Sports, “that this kind of a practice could become more common and could end up having extremely serious consequences for ticket holders in many places, as well as for StubHub, itself.”

The Warriors have not yet responded to a request for comment from Breitbart Sports.

The Warriors currently hold the best record in the NBA at 60-13 and a ten-game lead on the Houston Rockets in the West. Might that explain why StubHub’s inventory of Golden State tickets has declined 80 percent this season and their sales have dropped 40 percent?

“Absolutely not,” Fang holds. “I don’t think you will hear that explanation from the Warriors. The inventory has simply moved from StubHub and other secondary ticket exchanges to Ticketmaster.”

StubHub’s Glenn Lehrman adds, “When a team is successful we see more secondary sales, not less. Your individual season-ticket holders all start realizing you can make a buck.”

Though various local rules govern transactions outside venues, California allows fans to profit by reselling their tickets.

The Warriors take on the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center court tomorrow night before taking on StubHub in a federal court.

“In short,” the suit alleges, “Defendants have offered a Hobson’s Choice to Warriors fans: use Ticketmaster’s Secondary Ticket Exchange exclusively or forfeit your Warriors tickets altogether.”


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