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Teams sued over seat fees

 

Friday, March 20, 2009 BY JOHN BRENNAN NorthJersey.com

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A season-ticket holder for the Jets and Giants is suing both National Football League franchises for what he calls their "unconscionable" ticket-pricing programs at the new, shared stadium in the Meadowlands. #printDesc{display:none;} A season-ticket holder for the Jets and Giants is suing both National Football League franchises for what he calls their "unconscionable" ticket-pricing programs at the new, shared stadium in the Meadowlands.

 

Harold Oshinsky, a Florida resident, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages in a class-action suit filed in U.S. District Court this week. He said the teams' use of personal-seat licenses (PSL) violates the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and federal anti-trust laws.

 

The Giants are charging all fans $1,000 to $20,000 for a PSL, which gives them the right to purchase season tickets at the replacement for 33-year-old Giants Stadium, slated to open in 2010. The Jets are charging fans in the lower level a minimum of $5,000 for the right to retain those seats, with the best seats available to the highest bidder via auction.

 

Oshinsky — who has six seats in Section 130 for Giants games and four seats in Section 131 for Jets games — alleges that the resale value of the PSLs are overrated by the teams. He points to the uncertainty of future ticket prices, which now approach $100 per game even for the least desirable seats.

 

"The terms of the PSLs provide no assurances, guarantees or protections that Defendants will not set prices for Season Tickets at more than twice, or 10 times, the amount they currently plan to charge in 2010," Oshinsky's attorneys wrote.

 

The long-term season-ticket holder also asserts that the teams conceal the fact that either franchise could opt out of their stadium lease midway through their 30-year lease.

 

"We are aware that a complaint has been filed, but we have not been served papers as of yet," Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said Thursday. "We have no comment at this time, beyond to say that we are confident we have complied with all applicable law in the formulation and execution of our sales plan for the new stadium."

 

Under terms set by the teams, failure to renew season tickets would result in forfeiture of the PSLs. Fans can sell their PSLs on the open market beginning in 2011, however, and many Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers supporters have sold their PSLs for several times their original value.

 

Oshinsky said the uncertain cost of tickets and the lack of sufficient disclosure about how secondary-market sales would work make the programs illegal. He adds that the fine print in both PSL agreements mandates that fans agree that they will have "no expectation of profit as the licensee of this PSL."

 

Among the remedies sought in the lawsuit are a prohibition on the sale of PSLs; disclosure of all expected annual season-ticket price increases; team payment of a fair PSL market value for fans not seeking to renew; treble damages; and payment of all attorney's fees.

 

About 45,000 fans purchase the combined 160,000 season tickets for the two teams, Oshinsky estimated.

 

The Jets "colluded" with the Giants in 2005 by abandoning an effort to move to a new Queens stadium, according to the suit, agreeing to refrain from competing for luxury-suite revenues and large-scale events.

 

Oshinsky compares the PSL program for the two "monopolistic" teams to a hypothetical conspiracy between a local cable company and telephone company charging a "Broadband Subscription License" to purchase high-speed Internet access.

 

E-mail: brennan@northjersey.com

 

Harold Oshinsky, a Florida resident, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages in a class-action suit filed in U.S. District Court this week. He said the teams' use of personal-seat licenses (PSL) violates the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and federal anti-trust laws.

 

The Giants are charging all fans $1,000 to $20,000 for a PSL, which gives them the right to purchase season tickets at the replacement for 33-year-old Giants Stadium, slated to open in 2010. The Jets are charging fans in the lower level a minimum of $5,000 for the right to retain those seats, with the best seats available to the highest bidder via auction.

 

Oshinsky — who has six seats in Section 130 for Giants games and four seats in Section 131 for Jets games — alleges that the resale value of the PSLs are overrated by the teams. He points to the uncertainty of future ticket prices, which now approach $100 per game even for the least desirable seats.

 

"The terms of the PSLs provide no assurances, guarantees or protections that Defendants will not set prices for Season Tickets at more than twice, or 10 times, the amount they currently plan to charge in 2010," Oshinsky's attorneys wrote.

 

The long-term season-ticket holder also asserts that the teams conceal the fact that either franchise could opt out of their stadium lease midway through their 30-year lease.

 

"We are aware that a complaint has been filed, but we have not been served papers as of yet," Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said Thursday. "We have no comment at this time, beyond to say that we are confident we have complied with all applicable law in the formulation and execution of our sales plan for the new stadium."

 

Under terms set by the teams, failure to renew season tickets would result in forfeiture of the PSLs. Fans can sell their PSLs on the open market beginning in 2011, however, and many Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers supporters have sold their PSLs for several times their original value.

 

Oshinsky said the uncertain cost of tickets and the lack of sufficient disclosure about how secondary-market sales would work make the programs illegal. He adds that the fine print in both PSL agreements mandates that fans agree that they will have "no expectation of profit as the licensee of this PSL."

 

Among the remedies sought in the lawsuit are a prohibition on the sale of PSLs; disclosure of all expected annual season-ticket price increases; team payment of a fair PSL market value for fans not seeking to renew; treble damages; and payment of all attorney's fees.

 

About 45,000 fans purchase the combined 160,000 season tickets for the two teams, Oshinsky estimated.

 

The Jets "colluded" with the Giants in 2005 by abandoning an effort to move to a new Queens stadium, according to the suit, agreeing to refrain from competing for luxury-suite revenues and large-scale events.

 

Oshinsky compares the PSL program for the two "monopolistic" teams to a hypothetical conspiracy between a local cable company and telephone company charging a "Broadband Subscription License" to purchase high-speed Internet access.

 

E-mail: brennan@northjersey.com

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This is such a publicity nightmare for these teams, the whole PSL thing that is, not just this letter. Honestly, just charge some seats at $500 plus a game and raise tickets across the board. Increase beer prices by $1.00. Make parking and tailgating $30-$40. When you ask people to fork lump sums of money and tell them they have no option to do it, then of course they get pissed.

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But BOTH teams? And if he is in Florida why is he still getting them?

Because it harder for him to resale the tickets at a reasonal price. The PSL just cut into his profits...

 

I personally think this is a good thing and I hope more people start doing it. Are the Giants and the Jets, 2 of the most profitable football franchise, really going to sit there and tell me they need to add these PSL, with the aid of the NFL and the state of new Jersey in order to afford a new stadium? Pu-leez

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