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Sunday, February 13, 2021

see-you-in-court league
What do you do when you follow a Super Bowl-winning season with a 12-20 record?

If you’re the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you threaten to sue fans who have the temerity to want to cancel their season tickets.

But when [Mark Olson,] the Dunedin businessman called the ticket office last week, he was stunned to hear the team might take him to court if he failed to renew the club seats he has owned for two years.

“Without prompting, they told me, “There’s been so many people who’ve expressed that they might not renew their seats, we’ve been instructed to advise you that you may be sued by the team,” he said.

“At that point, I almost dropped the phone. I said, “Can you repeat that again?’ “

It turns out that, when you enter into an agreement for season tickets at Raymond James Stadium, you are assuming a lease on your seats, which represents a separate (though, obviously, necessary) transaction from buying your tickets. And like any lease, you have legal obligations to stick to that lease for the duration of the agreement.

Since Personal Seat Licenses are the favored instrument of financing NFL stadiums, we may be seeing a lot more of this stuff in the future.

Of course, it’s tricky business to sue your customer base:

Though the language in the contract supports the team’s right to sue, it might have trouble winning a judgment then reselling the seats, said Brad Bole, attorney with the law firm of Rahdert, Steele, Bryan, Bole & Reynolds, which represents the St. Petersburg Times.

“If the seats can be re-leased, this would be the best option for the Bucs: They would get the deposit and the full rental for the seats going forward,” Bole said in an e-mail. “If there really isn’t a waiting list and they can’t re-lease the seats, they might take the deposit and sue for the balance, but I think they would have to offset the deposit and whatever they get from re-leasing the seats.

“If they do not re-lease the seats in order to protect their right to sue for the balance of the lease, it would look bad on TV to have a bunch of empty seats; it could lead to blackouts … and, of course, suing season-ticket holders would be very bad public relations.”

But this is the NFL, right? Teams love to brag about the thousands and thousands of waiting-list names they have for season tickets; the Bucs publicly advertise that they’ve got 108,000 people on their list. So why resort to PSL enforcement legal action when, presumably, so many people are chomping at the bit to grab any cancellations?

I don’t doubt that there really are that many names on the Bucs’ waiting list. But I also don’t doubt that the vast majority of them don’t realize just how much they’d have to shell out to go from waiting list to ticket-holders list: The cost of the tickets plus the PSL rental fee — basically, twice as much as the listed ticket price. The Bucs know this, and realize that a large portion of the waiting list is worthless — a lot of those people can’t or won’t cough up the money to buy tickets even if they were offered openings. (Maybe they should do like the Jets and charge a $50 fee just to wait; that should thin out that herd.)

What compounds the bizarreness here is that plenty of former season-ticket holders were able to cancel their PSLs and tickets in the past, without the threat of legal action from the team. I think it’s safe to assume that the Bucs have gotten so many this offseason that they’re resorting to this strong-arming out of desperation, knowing they’d have a tought time re-leasing those seats.

So let’s review: Instead of turning the team around to retain and attract butts in the seats, owners can just sue their customers and/or threaten to relocate the team. Makes me want to plunk down my season-ticket deposit (note to Bucs’ sales and legal departments: that should not be construed as a binding promise; don’t sue me, fuckers.).

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/13/2005 06:36:58 PM
Category: Football, SportsBiz | Permalink |


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  1. You Always Hurt The One Who Pays . . .
    It’s one thing to make life difficult for some of the best customers in the NFL, but it’s another thing…

    Trackback by Off Wing Opinion — 02/14/2005 @ 01:13:39 AM

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