COMMENTARY | Opening day in the New York Yankees' legal war with ticket reseller StubHub is set for Monday - one week before baseball games are set to begin at Yankee Stadium.
That's when the Yankees will argue for an injunction that would keep in place a judge's temporary restraining order that prevents StubHub from opening a store on East 161st Street - about 700 feet from the entrance to Yankee Stadium - for fans to pick up tickets from the reseller.
StubHub says it should be able to distribute tickets - already paid for online - anywhere it chooses.
"Our view is that we're going to continue to offer fans to buy and sell tickets where they want to and not where the Yankees want them to," Lance Lanciault, StubHub's chief legal officer, told the New York Times. "We feel there is a pattern here of the Yankees trampling on the rights of their fans and they are using heavy-handed tactics to do that."
The Yankees, meanwhile, argued that StubHub's store is within 1,500 feet of the stadium, which violates New York State law barring tickets from being resold that close to a venue.
The jury in this case will likely be the fans who will benefit from a free and open competition. The Yankees have already abandoned - temporary, at least - a plan to set a "price floor" on tickets posted on the team's site. StubHub, meanwhile, is intent on opening a "Last Minute Service" to allow buyers and sellers to complete sales right up until game time - when prices generally drop - for an added fee. (The Yankees' site will halt sales three hours before game time.)
Last month, I described how ticket prices on the Yankees' official site were higher than those listed on StubHub. At the time, the Yankees had yet to print and deliver physical tickets to full and partial season ticket holders, so the tickets listed on StubHub could not be guaranteed as being "in hand."
This week, however, Yankees season ticket holders received their ticket packages and, not surprisingly, many flocked to the Yankees' ticket resale site, to sell their tickets for a lower commission (5 percent) than what StubHub charges (15 percent). The result has been that tickets prices on the Yankees' site are comparable - even cheaper, for some games - to those on StubHub.
For one game - Thursday, April 18th against the Arizona Diamondback - the Yankees site has over 1,300 tickets posted for $25 or less and more 300 listed for $10 or less. For the same game, StubHub has closer to 1,700 tickets listed for $25 or less but far fewer in seats located closer to the field. As for cheaper tickets, StubHub has the half the number of tickets for sale than the Yankees' site.
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.
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