Disabled concert, sporting event and theater patrons in New York can breathe a sigh of relief with the expected passage of a three year extension to New York’s ticket resale law, as a harsh measure pushed by a representative of The Broadway League to essentially eliminate the right of ticket resale for seats designated for handicapped patrons was left off the table as the bill made its way through committee before the full assembly makes its decision.
The request was made by Broadway League Director of Government Affairs Thomas Ferrugia, according to a source who was in attendance at the meeting in Albany. At that meeting, industry lobbyists, members of the Attorney General’s office and legislators like Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) met with officials from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to discuss what changes could or should be made to the laws pertaining to ticket resale in the Empire State.
Ferrugia reportedly pushed hard at making it illegal to resell tickets to areas of venues that were accessible to those with disabilities per requirements set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In effect, that restriction would take way the right to sell tickets that one has legally purchased for an event for ADA compliant seating – a right the law in New York grants to all others in the state.
Following the publication of this post, a representative of The Broadway League responded with the following statement:
“The Broadway League has never taken, in any conversations, discussions or filings, a negative position on any ADA issues or legislative proposals. No one from the League has participated in any meetings of any kind concerning the ADA, or ADA accessibility, with any state legislators. No one representing The League has ever suggested that a disabled individual who purchases a ticket, and is then unable to attend the show, should be prohibited from conveying that ticket in an effort to recoup the cost.”
The statement also pointed out a pair of recent programs it has led in the field of accessible theatre. Theatre Access NYC is a website designed to assist theatergoers with disabilities in finding accessible performances of Broadway productions. And in 2017, it coordinated an effort of its New York members to introduce new technology to provide an improved experience for audience members who are deaf, or have experienced vision or hearing loss.
That said, this instance was not the first time Ferrugia has pushed hard against the right to ticket resale on behalf of The Broadway League. Prior to the Connecticut legislature’s passage of strong protections against the restriction of resale rights in ticketing last summer, Ferrugia spoke against resale in public testimony. He and The Broadway League also declined to comment on whether or not he played fast and loose with the truth in that testimony, but he has not given such testimony again in the state.
Last year, Connecticut and Virginia both signed into law protections against venue and promoter interests cancelling tickets strictly because they were being resold. New York has had similar protections in place since 2007, and will continue to do so with the three year extension expected to pass this week, which added some consumer protections to its language, despite failing to add transparency on holdbacks as requested by Cuomo’s administration. It is fair to assume that industry figures like Mr. Ferrugia will be right back to work in Albany looking to push back against consumer rights once more.