Can Sports Teams Keep Rival Fans Away?

One 49ers fan wants millions after he was blocked from attending a football game in Seattle.

Seahawks only; no Niners fans allowed.
National Journal
Alex Brown
April 28, 2014, 10:59 a.m.

When Seattle Seahawks corner­back Richard Sher­man crushed the Su­per Bowl dreams of 49ers fan John E. Wil­li­ams III, Wil­li­ams wasn’t there to see it in per­son. For that, he wants $50 mil­lion.

Wil­li­ams filed suit this month against the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL, and Tick­et­mas­ter; he’s al­leging the prac­tice of re­strict­ing tick­et sales to res­id­ents of cer­tain states is a vi­ol­a­tion of fed­er­al law.

For Janu­ary’s NFC Cham­pi­on­ship game in Seattle, the Seahawks lim­ited on­line tick­et sales to cred­it card hold­ers who lived in Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, and some parts of Canada. Wil­li­ams, a diehard 49ers fan and Las Ve­gas res­id­ent, couldn’t buy him­self a tick­et — ex­actly what the Seahawks in­ten­ded.

Seattle isn’t the only team to try to pro­tect its home-field ad­vant­age by lim­it­ing the num­ber of tick­ets sold to out­siders. The Ok­lahoma City Thun­der is cur­rently keep­ing play­off tick­ets to a few neigh­bor­ing states, leav­ing out the Mem­ph­is Grizz­lies fans who might oth­er­wise in­vade.

That, Wil­li­ams says, should be il­leg­al. His law­suit cites both fed­er­al and state laws that ban “un­fair or de­cept­ive” busi­ness prac­tices. The fed­er­al law ref­er­enced by Wil­li­ams em­powers the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion to stop such prac­tices and levy fines for vi­ol­at­ors. An FTC spokes­man did not of­fer com­ment on if the agency is re­view­ing the case.

The U.S. Dis­trict Court in Las Ve­gas, where the suit was filed, did not re­spond to calls for com­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Wil­li­ams, the se­lect­ive sales are a form of “eco­nom­ic dis­crim­in­a­tion.” Giv­en the NFL’s tax-ex­empt status and use of pub­lic fund­ing to build many of its sta­di­ums, the league has an ob­lig­a­tion to give all cit­izens a fair chance to pur­chase its products, Wil­li­ams said.

The Seahawks and Tick­et­mas­ter did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. An NFL spokes­man de­clined to weigh in.

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×