Three New York Jets fans have filed a lawsuit against the Jets, claiming the team manipulated the prices of the personal seat licenses (PSL) in the “Coaches Club” section in their new stadium during a public online auction. The public auction took place in late October of last year and was conducted on StubHub, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
When the Jets announced their PSL policy last August, they announced the 2,000 “Coaches Club” PSLs would be sold exclusively as part of an auction in order to allow the market determine the price. Once the auction had closed, the team had only sold slightly over 600 of the seats, withholding the 1,400 remaining seats from the auction and planned to sell them at a fixed price.
According to the lawsuit, when the team reduced the number of available PSLs for purchase, they were allegedly attempting to influence the market value of those seats. It goes on to claim that Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson said following the auction that the public determined the prices, that the auction was “democratic” and that there was a public demand for the seat licenses. The lawsuit disputes all of those claims.
“These statements were false and deceptive as the defendants failed to permit the public from setting the prices, the auction process was manipulated, not democratic and in that the defendants deceptively acted to manipulate and intervene into the auction process in order to prevent ‘Coaches Club’ seats from falling to their true market value,” the lawsuit claims.
“During the auction, I thought it was unfair,” attorney Robert J. Walker, who is also one of the defendants, told TicketNews. He added that following the auction he attempted to contact the parties via letters but was unable to resolve the issue and decided to file the lawsuit.
StubHub spokesperson Sean Pate told TicketNews that company believes that the case is without merit.
In addition to limiting the number of PSLs available to the public, the lawsuit also claims that the auction also was manipulated by extending the bidding times to increase the potential selling price. Kyle Burks, founder of SeasonTicketRights.com, followed the auction and at that time noticed the extended bidding periods.
Burks told TicketNews in October that auctions he found that were supposed to close the evening of October 19 at 8:30 p.m. were extended to the following morning. If the auction for seats in Section 113, Row 22, Seats 25-29 had closed when it was originally listed, the PSLs would have sold for $9,500 per seat. The auction did not close until almost 8 a.m. the next morning, and sold for more than $20,000 per seat.
Walker is serving as the attorney for the other two plaintiffs, William Poisson of New York, and John McHale of New Jersey, and is seeking damages against the Jets and StubHub for false advertising, deception of the public and conspiracy, among other charges.