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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Is the Professional Sporting Event Ticket You Buy Really Yours? Nope!

Now that the election is over and our groups have had a chance to regroup from the election season there is an issue that may not be on your radar, but deserves some serious attention. 

Did you know that most ticket companies, team owners, venues, and artists they work with don’t believe that the ticket you buy to their event actually belongs to you? As a fan, a ticket, like any other product you buy should carry with it inherent ownership rights, including the right to sell, give away, or donate that ticket. When you purchase a ticket, the ticket becomes your property. Once you buy it, you own it!

A recent op-ed by Cleveland State University Law professor Christopher Sagers exposes some of the most egregious acts by the highly subsidized NFL and NBA franchises in Cleveland. Serial government handout seeker, and owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, and convicted fraudster and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, are two of the biggest abusers of Cleveland taxpayers.

The article mentions several examples of anti-competitive practices that are anti-free market and place undue restrictions against ticket owners. For example, the Cleveland Browns impose an arbitrary price floor on its affiliated resale website, Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange.

The use of a hidden price floor on the official resale site of the Browns should concern taxpayers in Cleveland and around Ohio. The Cleveland Browns stadium is owned by the city of Cleveland and leased to the team. Taxpayers have contributed heavily to the upkeep and renovation of the stadium. 

According to a November 2013 report by Cleveland.com renovation on the Browns stadium, approved last year, will cost upwards of $120 million and of that $30 million will be paid for by the city at the expense of taxpayers.

The Browns are not the only one using taxpayers. Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavs, who has received millions in tax payer handouts and supported the extension of the sin tax, to the tune of a $1.8 million collective effort is a proponent of restricting the resale market. 

Instead of competing for a chunk of the $10 billion a year resale business Gilbert wants to destroy the entire market by restricting fans to only use the resale Flashseats, the resale platform operated by his ticketing company, Veritix. 

Fans who are unaware of the restriction and use any other platform have been stripped of their season tickets and threatened with further action. Rather than compete against other platforms, Glibert is seeking to prevent competition and the end result will be higher ticket prices for fans.

The amount of money taxpayers shell out for all three major teams is astronomical. The Browns, Indians and Cavs cost the taxpayers millions annually. This was compounded by the extension of the Sin Tax which was extended to the tune of $260 million last year.

Whatever your political leanings may be, this issue is about personal property rights, your right as a ticket buying consumer and rigging of the free market. Gilbert, Ticketmaster, and others are using their power and influence to destroy the market and strip fans of their basic ownership rights. Ticket resale should be protected and consenting adults should have every right to sell their tickets where they choose and for a price they agree on, without restriction.

That is why you will soon see a broad coalition of grassroots activists from the left & the right, think tanks, nonprofits and consumer groups are teaming up to call on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to look into these anti-competitive practices and put a stop to them.

As taxpayers we should have a voice against these abuses. Attorney General DeWine should know that these issues exist and do whatever it takes to stop them. We hope you will join us as we continue to push forward with this fight and look forward to working with you to protect the free market and personal property rights of fans.


  1. Go to Pirates Tickets to look up your favorite team and what it will cost you to bring the family to see them this season.

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