A Maryland-based ticket broker has filed a lawsuit against the New York Yankees in the Empire State, arguing that the club’s decision to revoke more than 50 season tickets violates the state’s Arts and Cultural Affairs law. The broker, ASC Ticket Co. is seeking a reinstatement of the season tickets, as well as monetary damages of at least $1 million, according to a report on SportsBusinessDaily.com.
ASC’s argument is based upon Article 25 of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, which regulates ticket resale for events in New York. Section 30 outlines various ways operators of places of entertainment are prohibited from interfering with the legal resale of tickets. Among those restrictions, it is against state law to
“restrict by any means the resale of any tickets included in a subscription or season ticket package as a condition of purchase, as a condition to retain such tickets for the duration of the subscription or season ticket package agreement, or as a condition to retain any contractually agreed upon rights to purchase future subscription or season ticket packages that are otherwise conferred in the subscription or season ticket agreement;”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs received letters from the Yankees in early February indicating that the club’s “analytics team [had] determined that your buying behavior does not fit our criteria, therefore the decision has been made to release the seats.”
The 52 seats allegedly affected by this are collectively worth more than $440,000 – particularly when you take into account the fan excitement for the Bronx Bombers this year, following the team’s addition of slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the off-season.
ASC’s complaint calls the criteria used for the cancellation of the tickets “nothing more than a disguise for their illegal policy of targeting and taking inventory away from ticketing resellers,” SBD reports. “The Yankees’ wrongful conduct has already resulted in harm to ASC by its inability to fulfill orders for tickets that have already been placed and paid for, and will continue to cause incalculable harm to ASC’s business and reputation that cannot be remedied by monetary damages alone.”
In addition to damages, ASC is seeking a restraining order preventing the tickets be sold to another party.
It has been an offseason of widespread professional sports franchise pushback against any resale it doesn’t directly own, from football teams cancelling season tickets held for years that have seen too much resale activity, to the LA Dodgers consolidating its resale to one secondary seller in the name of sharing more directly in the profit.
New York is one of the few states places where what the Yankees (and those other teams) have done is explicitly forbidden. We’ll keep tabs on this story as it develops.