One of the major side-stories of the increased forced shift to digital-only ticketing systems is teams using the data they access about their season ticket holders usage of tickets and taking action – from increased in-stadium marketing, to cutting off ticket access if fans sell them too frequently. Fans of the Los Angeles FC found that out first-hand this month after hundreds were informed they would no longer be allowed to renew their season tickets after the team found them to have resold “a substantial portion” of their tickets.
Impacted fans were surprised and upset by the move, particularly given the fact that many said they were selling tickets more than they otherwise would due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I understand trying to stop scalping. But doing this during COVID?” former season ticket member Steve Jarrard told the Los Angeles Times after the tickets he and his girlfriend have held for multiple years were revoked. “She was devastated. She loves the team. I guess LAFC has a policy of taking away people’s seats during a pandemic.”
Another fan, who asked the Times to be quoted anonymously for fear that the team would deny his pending appeal of their decision, told the newspaper that he feared attending games due to comorbidities that would make a COVID case particularly risky.
“I’m a loyal fan,” they said. “I plan to on going to games. This year hasn’t worked out. I’ve definitely lost money. It’s for the love of the team. I have sent a note of appeal explaining my situation,” he added. “I do fear retaliation though. … I’m a little annoyed. Especially the fact that we’re in a state of emergency still.”
According to an email from the franchise sent earlier this week, those who sold their tickets too frequently were found to be in violation of their membership agreements. But impacted fans say they received no warning prior to their accounts being terminated.
The team says that it will review the accounts of those impacted if they wish.
LAFC is far from the first team to take this action against its own season ticket members in recent seasons. Penn State did it with season tickets for its football team in 2022. The Denver Broncos did it in 2017, as did the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. The since-renamed Cleveland Indians did it in 2018. In some instances, the teams simply take the tickets back from those they decide are ticket brokers and use them to make a deal with a different ticket broker directly, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers did in 2018.
In many instances, fans have filed lawsuits over the action, including in New York, where cancelling a season ticket membership strictly on the basis of the tickets having been resold too frequently runs afoul of the states arts and culture laws regulating ticketing. In one notable instance, a Maryland-based ticket brokerage sued the New York Yankees after the team tried to cancel more than $500,000 worth of tickets that the company owned, with the team opting to settle the lawsuit and restore the tickets.
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Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Dave Clark