The New England Patriots, as part of the team’s ongoing legal tussle with secondary ticket selling giant StubHub, has begun issuing subpoenas to about two dozen ticket brokers for information involving the resale of Patriots tickets.
The subpoenas, issued last week on Valentine’s Day to mostly New England-based brokers, demanded the brokers turn over six years worth of records concerning all work with StubHub; how the brokers acquired Patriots tickets; who the brokers bought the tickets from; how much the brokers paid for those tickets; and the exact rows and sections of where the seats were located, according to Jim Holzman, owner of Ace Ticket in Boston and one of the recipients of a subpoena.
“I was very surprised by the subpoena,” Holzman said. “It’s unfortunate that brokers are getting brought into this, but as one broker joked to me, ‘Nothing says I love you like a subpoena on Valentine’s Day’.”
The Patriots are one of the only NFL teams to take a hard line against the resale of their tickets, and won a legal battle last year in their fight with StubHub over the issue when a court forced the company to turn over the names of more than 13,000 people who bought or sold Patriots tickets.
How the subpoenas could affect StubHub rival Ticketmaster, which signed a multi-year contract with the NFL as the league’s secondary ticket reseller, is unknown. Ticketmaster recently announced it was acquiring secondary ticket company TicketsNow, which also presents brokers that resell Patriots tickets. Spokespeople for both Ticketmaster and TicketsNow did not reply to messages seeking comment, nor did representatives from the National Association of Ticket Brokers.
In an email to brokers obtained by TicketNews, StubHub Legal Director Allyson Willoughby offered support to brokers who were slapped with subpoenas.
“As you know, the New England Patriots are currently suing StubHub in Massachusetts. The Patriots want to prevent sellers from being able to resell Patriots tickets on StubHub. Instead, the Patriots want to restrict ticket resales to their own website. Some of our sellers have contacted us to let us know that the Patriots have served subpoenas on them, requiring them to produce documents and possibly to give deposition testimony. It is regrettable that the Patriots have elected to involve you in this dispute. StubHub recognizes that responding to subpoenas can be inconvenient and time consuming, particularly when a written response is required within ten (10) days of receiving it. Accordingly, should you wish any assistance or advice in responding to the subpoena, StubHub has arranged for an independent lawyer in Boston who is prepared to help you, at StubHub’s expense,” Willoughby wrote.
Sean Pate, spokesperson for StubHub, said he did not have an immediate comment on the matter but would issue a statement later. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Holzman said that his attorneys have spoken to the Patriots legal team and reached an agreement in a second round of subpoenas, expected to be issued tomorrow, Feb. 22, that would supersede the first one and narrow the scope of information the team is seeking, a move that will slightly ease the burden on what brokers will have to furnish.