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The Yankees sue StubHub over store near Yankee Stadium

Mar 18, 2013, 5:02 PM EDT

needtickets

Last month the Yankees and Angels opted-out of the resale arrangement the 28 other teams have with StubHub. This came after years of acrimony between the Yankees and StubHub over what the Yankees perceive to be StubHub undercutting the team by selling tickets lower than the Yankees box office. Never mind that the Yankees had already sold those tickets to whoever was putting them on StubHub and never mind that the market pretty much dictates what people will pay for tickets and the Yankees couldn’t be bothered to listen.

Now the acrimony is higher as Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal reports that the Yankees have sued StubHub over what may or may not be a StubHub retail store near Yankee Stadium. I say “may or may not” because what, exactly, that StubHub storefront near the ballpark is depends on your point of view.

The Yankees say it’s a ticket resale store and that its presence less than 1,500 feet of a sports venue violates New York scalping laws. StubHub counters, saying no, it’s just a place were people on their way to a game can print out and pick up their tickets which were purchased online. Those sets of competing interpretations are the stuff of litigation, my friends.

And, with the caveat of me not knowing a thing about this particular law or the facts giving rise to this dispute, I will offer that courts frequently look askance at efforts to circumvent an existing law with what can only be described as cuteness. And this, however clever, does seem a bit too cute.

But obviously that’s for the courts to decide. And now they’re getting their chance.

  1. Ben - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Maybe the Yankees should price their tickets competitively? Just a thought.

    • lardin - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      Why, they sell 3.5 million tickets every year?

      • Ben - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:25 PM

        Teams love talking up their commitments to “dynamic pricing” or StubHub but they don’t want that to mean prices can fall.

      • guatdajel - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:17 PM

        You’re being downvoted, but you’re right. What’s the incentive for them to lower tickets if they’re still getting 40,000+ per game? They’re a business, and business is good. Sucks for the fans, but that’s how capitalism works.

      • Ben - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        But that’s not how capitalism works. The Yankees are actively working to stifle competition so they can maintain a monopoly over their tickets. That’s the only thing keeping prices propped up. It’s obvious that the market is totally happy with 5-dollar last minute tickets. The Yankees are trying to rub that market out of existence.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      stay home!

  2. jhb64 - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    The Yankees are being pigs

  3. Kevin S. - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    I’m really not sure how cute that is. Can you buy a ticket at the StubHub location? If not, then it’s not scalping within 1,500 feet of a sporting venue.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:31 PM

      Have you truly purchased something if it is not given to you? Isn’t the delivery of the product an inherent and essential part of the sale?

      • Ben - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        Or is the “sale” the discrete act of currency changing hands and the delivery is simply an ancillary act?
        I’ve used those print boothes before, and if I remember correctly, I already “had” them as a pdf, I just had the choice of how I printed them. At home, or at their kiosk.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:39 PM

        I think in this case though there’s a pretty clear difference. You can print out StubHub tickets at home – the pick-up location is just a convenience, not necessary for taking delivery of the tickets. Scalping laws that have to do with distance from a sporting venue are pretty clearly targeted at those standing outside the stadium hawking the tickets. If we’re going to talk about the spirit of the law, I’d say trying to spin the printout location under its jurisdiction is getting cute with the law.

      • Ben - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        Right, or to put it slightly differently, if printing tickets is scalping, then is everyone who lives within 1500 feet of Yankee stadium (not an insignificant number of people) and prints off a ticket breaking the law? That’s absurd.

      • Ben - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        Or, if I buy my ticket from StubHub, and use the StubHub app to download the ticket to my phone within 1500 feet of Yankee Stadium, am I breaking the law?

      • cur68 - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        People purchase things all the time on the internet and posses no physical portion of it. Music. Movies. Books. Its just as purchased, even if its in an electronic format.

        StubHub can, and likely will, argue that they are providing a printing service and nothing else. The customer already owned the ticket, same as their purchased music etc.

        Given that a smartphone can produce etickets that are scannable, all without needing a paper ticket, then its arguable that a sale in this day an age does NOT constitute physical possession of the item. Electronic possession is good enough.

        After that, its merely a matter of a printing services. Does it really matter if this takes place at a StubHub store or a Kinkos? Either place can print a a pdf ticket after all. The printing of the ticket does NOT complete the sale.

      • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:30 PM

        Do all ball parks even require paper tickets? They can just scan the bar code directly from a smart phone.

      • raysfan1 - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:45 PM

        Sure, people do it all the time–buy the ticket and pick it up at the will call window. You bought the ticket; it’s yours, it’s just being held by the seller until you pick it up. StubHub is essentially saying they’ve opened their own will call location. If no sales are being made at the location, then I don’t see a problem.

      • astiowa - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        Several problems with your logic Craig. First, this is settled case law with respect to delivery verse the place of the transaction. Lots of states and municipalities wish the point of delivery constituted the point of sale (as then the whole question of how to enforce sales tax on the Internet would be resolved), but alas that is not the case. You need to have a physical presence and have the transaction take place there. In this case, people printing out tickets already purchased online, the transaction occurred somewhere else. Further more, and more importantly, Stubhub doesn’t own any tickets and isn’t selling anything. They are a third party market place for individual buyers and sellers and serve as an escrow agent for the transaction. They make a commission on the transaction between the two parties in exchange for the service provided. As such Stubhub isn’t scalping anything, although you may or may not be able to make the argument the seller is. If the Yankee’s want to try to enforce that law they need to go after each and every reseller, but since those are mostly season ticket buyers they are not likely to do that. If they are successful in ending resale of tickets, I predict they will not like the results as they will have far fewer season ticket holders, fewer attendees, and thus less revenue.

      • klingonj - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:37 PM

        if I printout my boarding pass and ticket at the airport, does that mean I purchased it there?

        I would think you could use the tax law as the rational, if they havent taxed it at the pickup location. The Yankees (Like the rest of the pro teams) are also trying to get every nickel and sometimes they misfire.

      • byjiminy - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:18 PM

        What if you buy Yankee tickets from the Yankees directly, via the internet. Are you saying you haven’t really bought them, because you don’t own them till you pick them up? The Yankees don’t give two hoots whether you pick them up or not — the sale was complete when you paid for them.

        Your argument is like saying you haven’t bought a house just because you’ve closed on it — you don’t really own it until you’ve moved in.

        Have you truly purchased something if you have not exchanged money for it? Isn’t paying for something an inherent and essential part of the sale?

  4. noquickreactionshere - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Isn’t the issue with scalping tickets when they tickets are being sold over face value? I’m under the impression that lower priced tickets are not “scalped” no matter how close to the venue.

    • beefytrout - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      Theoretically, all the spankee’s attorneys would need to do is prove that at least 1 ticket was “sold” above face value in relation to that Stubhub physical location.

    • bigharold - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:48 PM

      “I’m under the impression that lower priced tickets are not “scalped” no matter how close to the venue.’

      Not so. I thought that too, .. that if you sold the ticket for less than face value it wasn’t scalping, .. and almost got arrested trying to sell a ticket to a Ranger game outside the Garden one night. If money exchanges hands it’s scalping.

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        They probably would have arrested you Harold, if your name had been Dick.

      • bigharold - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        Or, .. if my name was Randy, .. see below.

      • JB (the original) - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:06 PM

        Interesting. Until Minnesota legalized scal…err Market Driven Resell Pricing a few years ago, nobody got hassled on the streets unless they were selling above face value. Tons of resellers, but at or below face value.

    • paperlions - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      By definition, you are correct. Scalping is the resale of tickets for exorbitant prices above face value….but just because you aren’t scalping doesn’t mean the resale transaction is legal (i.e. there are resale laws in different states that go above and beyond scalping).

  5. Gobias Industries - Mar 18, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Wait until the Yankees find out they’re selling hot dogs and beer just outside the stadium!

    • Kevin Gillman - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      Shhhh don’t say anything, it’s a bargain on the streets.

      • mybrunoblog - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:00 PM

        Amen to that. I can get a can of soda or a bottle of water and 2 hot dogs for $5 outside Yankee Stadium. I walk across the street, enter the stadium and the same thing costs $17.50. Nuts.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM

        Sadly it’s like that at any ballpark, but it’s good to know they have it covered outside of Yankee Stadium.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        By the way, how much is beer? I was at Yankee Stadium back in 2004, and paid $9 for a beer. I had to do it, just to say I had a beer at Yankee Stadium. Is it up to $12 yet?

      • Kevin S. - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        The decent beer is. I think the swill is still in the $8-9 range.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        I’d like to check out new Yankee Stadium, I think the best way is to go on a bus trip, like I did to old Yankee Stadium, seeing 2 Indians-Yankee games. I might even purchase a beer for $12 just to say I did…LOL How much is pop?

      • Kevin S. - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        Not sure, I actually haven’t been back since ’09. Not a big fan of the new place. Too sterile. If you’re going to bus into New York to check out a stadium, I’d say go to Citi Field, unless you don’t want to give the Wilpons any of your money.

      • Kevin Gillman - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        I normally wouldn’t, but it’s baseball so I could do that too. I did hear it’s not the same at Yankee Stadium, and I remember being in awe of the place in 2004.

  6. kevinbnyc - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Come on guys…the Yankees aren’t getting enough money from StubHub from the sale of tickets they’ve already sold once. It’s just not fair.

  7. randygnyc - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Actually, stub hub isn’t selling anything. They are a just a conduit between buyer and seller.

    The law in NY states a ticket can not be resold, at any price, 1500 feet from the stadium. Scalping has a specific definition. I have an unbelievable first hand story how I know all about this. In 1996, I had 2 tickets for the Yankees home WS games. One night, my wife tells me 15 minutes before we got on the subway, she didn’t feel well and was staying home. Once I got to the stadium, I offered to sell the ticket, at face value, to a person by the box office. I was just looking to unload, without any profit, as dozens of scalpels around me was charging high prices (crazy demand, first Yankee WS in years). Next thing I know, I was in handcuffs and led to a bus. There were 2 buses, one for guys like me and one for the well known chronic scalpels. I had the ticket confiscated and given a desk appearance. I went into the stadium with my original ticket they failed to ask for and confiscate.

    A few months later, I went to court. The summons said, “resale of ticket within 1500 feet”. The scalpels had that word on their summons. Bailiff announced my name with the charge, “scalping”. I politely told the judge that the bailiff poisoned the court with false accusations designed to impugn me. Judge dismissed this case on the spot. (First and only time in handcuffs, btw).

    • crankyfrankie - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:28 PM

      Well played Randy. This Phillies fan is applauding you.

    • mybrunoblog - Mar 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM

      Next time go into Stan’s and have a beer with the potential buyer. In most cases an undercover will rarely consume alcohol while on the job. If he refuses to have a beer I’d politely walk away right after saying “tickets? What tickets?”

      • randygnyc - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:13 AM

        Funny thing is, I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong. I wasn’t selling discreetly as I yelled that I was selling ticket at face value. I was shocked I got cuffed. I really thought I was doing someone a favor reselling such a good seat, main box behind 3rd, at face. I was one of the few that had the charge “resale within 1500 feet), as opposed to “scalping” written on the summons. Once the bailiff announced I was charged with scalping, (which I wasn’t), I told the judge that the court had now been prejudiced against me.

        If that ever happened again, I’d go down the block. Stan’s is still within 1500 feet. Usually, I’d just eat the ticket and have done so many times before. It’s not worth the hassle. But again, this was the WS and I thought I was doing a fan a favor.

  8. randygnyc - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Damn autocorrect- scalpers, dammit!!!

  9. m3dman3 - Mar 18, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Yankees tickets are cheap enough I buy all of mine through the Yankees box office.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      the cheapest way to get Yankee tickets is to steal it.

  10. rcali - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    This just in. The Yankees have signed ‘Insert 40 year old player name.’ I do wonder, outside of companies who write off the expense, who buys Yankee tickets at full price?

  11. manchestermiracle - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    At this point I have to start believing the Yankees pay someone in their front office to find new ways for non-Yankees fans to continue to hate them.

  12. Reggie's Bush - Mar 18, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    You can purchase tickets at stubhub storefronts – physical or the printable versions.

    Personally I wish ticket markets would get regulated. I go to many music concerts – as soon as they go on sale big ticket artists are sold out within 30 seconds – and they are on stubhub for 150% higher price (minimum)

    I also have good friends who work at another ticket broker in NY. Their company gets a percentage of broadway tickets before their even sold to the public. It’s all a scam.

  13. hockeyflow33 - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    I always enjoy when people give legal opinions based off of nothing.

  14. dowhatifeellike - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    All MLB teams list extra tickets at StubHub. If the Yankees don’t like the way StubHub operates, they should stop using them as a middleman.

    Should they persist with legal action, there are going to be a ton of empty seats this season when people can’t unload their tickets. The guy who saves $15 on a ticket (which has already been purchased at face value once) is going to end up spending $30 on your 500% markup food and drink anyway.

    • Run Lines Baseball Betting - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:03 AM

      Excellent point. Seems like the Yankees are being pretty greedy. Tickets are already sold and they want to get a cut of the resale business as well. Beer isn’t cheap there either.

    • hardjudge - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:41 AM

      Obviously you did not read the article. The Yankees and the Angels opted out of the agreement with StubHub. At least pay attention.

      • bh0673 - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        The real problem here is for season ticket holders like myself I have to be able to sell the tickets I can’t use or don’t want or else I can’t purchase the rest of my season tickets. Yes I have been frustrated by the prices that tickets were going for on the secondary market but if that is all the market will bear then I have to accept that. So far however of the two season ticket packages I currently have I have sold those tickets on StubHub and nothing on the Yankee Ticket Exchange. The Yankee organization has lost sight of the fact that there is a limit people will pay to go to a game and even a small increase in price can be the difference between eating the ticket and selling them. In 2010 I had no problem selling every ticket I didn’t want for face value even to the ticket scalpers 2011 they raised the prices and even the scalper backed off. The market will only bear what it will bear and the Yankees deciding what the minimum I can sell my tickets for as far as I am concerned is an infringement and their meddling may be the final straw that causes me to stop being a season ticket holder. Between that and the $45 to park my car it just ceases to make sense.

  15. denverdude7 - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    There is a very simple solution to all of this.

    Just move the stadium further away from the StubHub store.

  16. bigbells1 - Mar 20, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Let’s suppose I’m on my way to Yankee Stadium to see a game. I decide to check and see if I can get a cheaper ticket from Stub Hub. I go to the Stub Hub website with my smartphone as I’m standing outside their door, and purchase a ticket. Then I go inside and get my ticket. My problem is being able to sympathize with both sides of the argument.

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