The fate of one of the country’s more lucrative ticketing contracts could continue to be in control of Ticketmaster, because the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), which operates the Meadowlands Sports Complex, appears to have no immediate plans to put the agreement out to bid.
Monday, February 1, marks the six-month point when the NJSEA is supposed to notify Ticketmaster whether it plans to put the contract out to bid, but according to NJSEA spokesperson John Samerjan, that date will likely come and go with no action. The current three-year contract expires in August, but it contains two, one-year extension options that can be exercised by the authority.
“We’re not at the point where the board has taken any action on that,” Samerjan told TicketNews, adding that he was going to check with the authority’s legal counsel on what direction the group should take as it relates to the Monday deadline. “I wouldn’t have anything to say on that matter.”
Earlier this week, Ticketmaster merged with concert promotions giant Live Nation to form Live Nation Entertainment, and in its approval of the deal the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indicated that it wanted to preserve competition in the ticketing industry.
DOJ singled out Comcast-Spectacor and AEG as potential competitors to Live Nation Entertainment, which has been told to license its ticketing software to AEG and sell its Paciolan ticketing division to Comcast-Spectacor. Theoretically, Comcast-Spectacor could bid on the contract now, if it the authority put out a request for proposal document, as could AudienceView, Veritix and a host of other primary ticketing operations.
“We’ve had an excellent relationship with Ticketmaster, and also with Live Nation,” Samerjan said, adding that he does not know if or how the merger might affect the decision of whether to put the contract out to bid.
“Absolutely put it out for bid,” said Tom Patania, president and CEO of New Jersey-based Select-A-Ticket, and a former president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. “The NJSEA should look at all possible solutions to lowering the Ticketmaster fees passed onto consumers in the state of New Jersey. Fees could be a lot lower if it were not a shared revenue model and the box office sold more tickets rather than Ticketmaster.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. from New Jersey, where he represents parts of the state with NJSEA venues, last year introduced the BOSS Act, legislation aimed at regulating and cleaning up the ticketing industry. Pascrell’s office did not return messages seeking comment by press time.
“As for the Meadowlands, we’re always in favor of competition that leads to lower pricing and better accessibility for fans,” said Glenn Lehrman, head of Communications for StubHub. “If by putting this contract out to bid it’s the intention of the Sports Authority to do just that, then we are definitely a proponent.”