By Jack Bouboushian
Courthouse News Service
MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Season ticket-holders sued the Minnesota Timberwolves over the NBA team’s new ticket policy restricting resale, calling the new guidelines “draconian and unlawful.”
GLS Companies and James Mattson filed a class action against Minnesota Timberwolves Basketball in Hennepin County, Minn., last Thursday. The Minnesota Timberwolves are a professional basketball team based in Minneapolis.
GLS and Mattson say they each spent more than $20,000 on 2015-2016 season tickets. But the team implemented a new ticketing policy for this season requiring the use of paperless tickets through Flash Seats, which controls the manner in which ticket-holders may resell or transfer tickets, according to the lawsuit.
“The Timberwolves’ new ticket policy eliminates paper tickets and imposes draconian and unlawful limitations on the ability of ticket-holders, including season ticket-holders, to acquire, sell, or transfer the tickets for which they paid,” the 28-page complaint states.
The policy also allegedly imposed rules forbidding the resale of tickets below a minimum price, usually between 75 and 90 percent of the ticket’s face value. Tickets can only be resold through Flash Seats, eliminating secondary markets for tickets on other platforms such as StubHub, or a hand-to-hand transaction, the lawsuit states.
GLS and Mattson claim they had already bought their tickets when the change was made and say that the move to paperless tickets would have altered their decision.
“Because the Timberwolves have performed so poorly, plaintiffs and class members have been left holding the bag, since reasonable market purchasers have no interest in paying premium prices for a team mired at the bottom of the conference standings with no hopes of making the NBA playoffs,” according to the complaint.
In the 2014-15 season, the Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA at 16-66.
Mattson says he tried to sell $240 face value tickets to a Timberwolves vs. Celtics game in February for $100, but could only set his price at $180 or higher. Since the tickets did not sell, he was unable to recoup any of his money.
Timberwolves president Chris Wright issued a statement, saying, “It is our policy not to comment on pending litigation. What we can tell you is that the Timberwolves and Lynx organizations are confident that Flash Seats supplies the best possible experience for our fans. Flash Seats give our ticket-holders the maximum possible convenience and complete control over their Timberwolves and Lynx tickets.”
Brian Gudmundson, attorney for the ticketholders, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “This is something a lot of ticket-holders, including very loyal fans, did not bargain for. This was not something they were told about. It was implemented, and this didn’t sit well with them. People have their limits. They’re upset. These are not cheap products.”