StubHub, the burgeoning online ticket exchange for sports and entertainment, is suing the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster for antitrust violations in the Northern District of California. StubHub alleges that the Warriors and Ticketmaster have unlawfully colluded to restrain competition by telling season ticket holders that they can only resell their tickets through Ticketmaster.
The complaint alleges that the Warriors have threatened to revoke the season tickets of any individual that fails to resell their tickets through Ticketmaster or NBAtickets.com. It is claimed that these actions constitute an illegal tying arrangement that violates the Section 1 of the Sherman Act, as well as an intentional conspiracy to monopolize under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, among other causes of action under federal and state law.
As a result, StubHub claims that it has suffered an 80% decrease in ticket listings for Warriors tickets and 40% decrease in sales of such tickets in the previous year alone.
At the public level, StubHub alleges consumers are being injured by being foreclosed from more inexpensive options to resell and purchase tickets on the secondary market:
“Due to Defendants’ forcing, purchasers of Warriors resale tickets cannot take advantage of StubHub’s lower fees, but rather must pay Ticketmaster’s substantially higher fees that are unconstrained by competition.”
As in most antitrust cases, it will be up to the trier of fact to determine whether there are any legitimate business justifications or efficiencies in the business arrangement between the Warriors and Ticketmaster that counterbalance the anticompetitive effects complained of by StubHub.
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