Portland Timbers season ticket-holder Todd Nelson saw his ticket packages as more than just an entry to the games, but as an entrepreneurial opportunity. He purchased annually 111 season ticket packages; he was particular about buying not just nosebleed seats anywhere in the stadium, but prime real estate in the front rows of sections and with mid-field views. Nelson took pride in this valuable collection of tickets, and in a story released last week, told Forbes he saw his relationship as a season ticket-holder as one of “ownership interest” rather than as just another attendee.
This viewpoint was suddenly turned on its head in July of 2016, when Nelson was informed by the Timbers organization that they were revoking his right to buy season tickets to home games. This termination was based on the fact that Nelson had been reselling his tickets on secondary marketplace sites such as StubHub- an authorized and legal venture, he believes.
Nelson is suing the Portland Timbers in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington under the premise that the franchise misled him to believe he had a stake in the Major League Soccer team, and thus a right to resell and repurchase. He says he was regularly sent marketing material and information that “represented that season ticket holders had an ‘ownership’ interest in their season tickets” rather than just a revocable license on a season-to-season basis, as the Timbers counterclaim. The Complaint he filed states that “the Timbers led Nelson to believe he would always have first rights to at least the same number of tickets (111) he had purchased the previous year”. Nelson believes as such, he was wrongfully terminated from his right to sustain membership- and more so, this high level of membership- as a season ticket-holder.
This lawsuit comes in the midst of a year muddled with legal issues around both the right of season ticket-holders regarding ticket resale, and ticket resale as an industry at large. Several fans sued the Rams franchise last month when the team moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles, but would not refund those who had deposited money in hopes of becoming season ticket-holders. In contradicting news, the Florida Marlins owner actually sued fans for cancelling their season ticket arrangements. Laws regarding ticket resale made headlines for both the states of New York and Virginia earlier this year, and it seems like the decision must be made once and for all- do fans own their tickets, or not?