Mayor James Cassella and the Borough Council of East Rutherford, NJ — home of the New Meadowlands Stadium and IZOD Center — have passed a resolution that considers the use of restrictive paperless tickets harmful to fans and a technology that “violates the free market principles that helps economies thrive.”
The non-binding measure opposing restrictive paperless tickets was passed unanimously this month and was partially designed to put pressure on the state Assembly to act on a proposal that requires paperless tickets be transferable and not restrictive. The bill, A373, has languished in the Assembly for close to a year while the legislative body took up other matters, though a vote on the measure could happen before the end of the year.
New Jersey’s bill resembles legislation passed last year in New York that regulates restrictive paperless tickets, and the East Rutherford resolution clearly draws inspiration from it. The New York law was written to protect consumers and the free market for resold tickets, both of which are alluded to in the East Rutherford plan, the text of which is below:
Whereas The Borough of East Rutherford serves as home to the New Meadowland Stadium and IZOD Center which entertain residents and serve as major economic engines to the region; and
Whereas The Borough of East Rutherford is aware of deceptive practices by ticket companies such as misleading fans into paying more for event tickets, and instituting restrictive paperless ticket programs; and
Whereas The Borough of East Rutherford believes this consumer’s rights issue hurts local residents and visitors to our fine community; and
Whereas The Borough of East Rutherford considers these policies harmful to businesses that depend on our local attractions by putting fewer fans in the seats, causing fewer families to frequent nearby restaurants and other business, and making the transfer of tickets to clients and staff more expensive, and in some cases impossible, for business owners; and
Whereas The Borough of East Rutherford understands that ticketing agencies are seeking to implement these policies at the behest of our community and the free market; and
Whereas The Borough of East Rutherford believes our community will be better served when fans own the tickets they purchase and are allowed to transfer, gift and resell their tickets; and
Whereas The Borough of East Rutherford recognizes the New Meadowlands Stadium and IZOD Center as neighbors and a vital economic engine for our community.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that council of the Borough of East Rutherford, New Jersey hereby finds and declares:
That the concept of restrictive paperless ticketing can cause potential harm to our residents and business owners and violates the free market principles that helps economies thrive.
That our state lawmakers should consider policies that ensure a fair market place for the exchange of tickets, and protects the rights of fans and local businesses alike.
The resolution was sponsored by Councilman Joe Brizzi, a season ticket holder for the New York Giants who believes that regulation is needed based on the 2009 debacle over Bruce Springsteen fans being redirected from Ticketmaster to its TicketsNow subsidiary, where tickets often sell for more than face value.
“Now we see efforts to restrict consumers further through paperless ticket efforts — underscored by the announcement just this week about a group supported by Ticketmaster pursuing an agenda that clearly is not in the consumers’ interests,” Brizzi told NorthJersey.com.
The group Brizzi is talking about, the Fans First Coalition (FFC), launched this month with support from dozens of artists and venues, many of whom are managed by or have contracts with Ticketmaster and/or its parent company Live Nation.
A spokesperson for the FFC did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
“As a New York Giants season ticket holder, I believe that I own the tickets I purchase,” Brizzi told NorthJersey.com. “If I want to give away my ticket as a gift, or sell my ticket to a game I cannot attend, that’s my right as a consumer. Paperless tickets give large ticketing companies complete control of the market which leaves consumers with higher prices and fewer choices. Ticket issuers already charge consumers so-called ‘convenience fees’ and have directed fans to subsidiary ticket brokers who charge outrageous prices for their tickets. Fans and local businesses dependent on local venues deserve better than unfair and restrictive ticketing practices.”
The issue over restrictive paperless tickets is shaping up to be a war between Ticketmaster and rival StubHub, which has backed another advocacy group, the Fan Freedom Project (FFP). The FFP believes restrictive paperless tickets could hurt fans, StubHub and the whole secondary ticket market because Ticketmaster would control both initial ticket sales and how or if tickets are later resold; under such a scenario, Ticketmaster could, for example, unilaterally impose extra fees or otherwise drive up prices. Competing paperless ticket company Veritix takes a slightly different approach by giving fans and brokers the ability to transfer or resell tickets via a free account on its Web site.
“The Fan Freedom Project applauds Councilman Brizzi’s efforts to protect the rights of East Rutherford’s live-event fans,” Jon Potter, president of the FFP, told TicketNews in a statement. “The council’s resolution recognizes the dangers restrictive paperless tickets pose to fans, and the businesses that serve them. We look forward to other municipalities taking up similar consumer-friendly measures, and hope that New Jersey will join New York in ensuring that fans continue to own the tickets they buy.”