49ers fan sues over Seahawks’ ticket policy

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The NFL has determined that the tendency of some teams to restrict ticket sales to certain addresses gives rise to no legal issues.  The conclusion of the NFL’s lawyers is about to be tested.

According to the Associated Press, a 49ers fan has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the NFL for allowing the Seahawks to limit playoff ticket orders to pro-Seattle markets.

“They’re always boasting up there about their 12th player and everything else,” John E. Williams III told the Associated Press on Friday.  “But by allowing the NFL to decide who can or cannot attend the games, you make it an unfair game.  Seattle fixed it.”

The Seahawks won the game 23-17, erasing a 10-point first-half deficit.

The lawsuit alleges that the practice of “withholding the sale of tickets from the public at large and allowing only credit card holders limited to certain areas is a violation of the Federal Consumer Fraud Act and/or common law.”

The league had no comment on the lawsuit.  In the wake of the news that the Seahawks would restrict sales for the NFC championship game, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said that he “respects” the approach.

Still, the practice definitely seems unfair.  But plenty of things are unfair; that doesn’t mean they’re illegal.

122 responses to “49ers fan sues over Seahawks’ ticket policy

  1. This whiner fan should be thanking the world champion Seattle Seahawks for sparing him the misery of watching his pathetic excuse for a team choke away yet another championship oppertunity. If he wants to file charges against anybody it should be Kaepernick, his second half performance was criminal.

  2. whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    get a life

  3. It seems to me that a strawman purchase would be perfectly legal. Travel agencies in Seattle should be buying large quantities of the tickets and selling them to out-of-city fans as part of travel packages.

  4. i hope this guy loses in court, and incurs thousands upon thousands of dollars in lawyer fees.. so sick of these money grabs over nothing

  5. This guy kind of has a point. The team is prohibited from amplifying crowd noise in order to create a disadvantage for the visiting team. Isn’t this sort of the same thing? No one denies that the fan noise in Seattle is a factor in their team’s home success so any action that increases that noise, which the restriction of tickets to Seattle area zip codes seems to do, would be equally illegal. Of course the team would take the position that it trying to reward their local fans for their support but they certainly wouldn’t be permitted to say, distribute bull horns to their fans or alter the acoustics to accentuate the noise, so why are they permitted to only admit fans that are likely to give their team an advantage that has nothing to do with the the team’s actual performance?

  6. suck it up forty whiner fan, when your team gets the chance to host a title game (not for awhile) then your team can set its ticket policy. I’d just be bent out of shape for how much we have to pay to go to a game…

  7. This could get messy for the Seahawks and Broncos, both teams took that approach.

    It’s dirty pool to limit ticket sales but as a business owner they should have that right. If the tables were turned I would bet the 49ers would’ve done the same thing.

  8. The only clear winner here will be the lawyers. Still there is no good reason to sell only to pro-Seattle markets, as if that can be proven anyway. One thing is for sure, it’s a bad look for Harbaugh to have any comment of any kind.

  9. Saying this is unfair is like saying having a game in your home stadium is unfair.

    This guy is ridiculous. I hope he not only loses, but has to pay a ton of legal fees.

  10. He’s probably right but there are plenty of tickets available on the secondary market. His damages are the amount he would have paid on Stubhub vs. the face value (assuming he could have even gotten a ticket at face value). Seeing as he didn’t even go to the game, I’m not sure he even has standing to sue.

  11. People need to get over this and stop running to lawyers every time something does not go their way.

  12. Unless the NFL requires a certain number of tickets to be set aside for visiting team fans, I see nothing unfair about limiting ticket sales to the people you want to come to the event (obviously I’m not talking about discriminating for an illegal reason, like Donald Stirling).

    The goal of each team is to win, and to maintain their standing within the marketplace of fans they need to foster a winning environment. If the team doesn’t do what it can to assure such a result, then it risks alienating its own fans. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Making tickets available to fans of other teams when you don’t have to (either due to league rule, or for economic reasons because you have too many empty seats) means you are, ultimately, undercutting the interests of your home fans by decreasing your chances of winning by foregoing crowd support advantage.

    I have no problem if the NFL adopts a rule requiring a minimum set aside for visiting team fans. But this “unfairness” stuff is silly.

    Of course the other thing that’s silly is someone claiming to have been injured in the amount of $50million. But litigating lawyers have no conscience when there’s a fee to be made.

  13. “Not happy about something? It’s not your fault! It’s never your fault! Sue! Sue anyone, anywhere! Call now – our lawyers are waiting to take your money!”

  14. Figures. Thats why theyre the Whiners. By the way, San Diego has been blocking Bay Area addresses from purchasing tickets to Raiders at Chargers games for years, and we still fill it up with Raider Nation. Quit whining, whiner fans. Your smarter than that, figure it out.

    RAIDER NATION!!!!

  15. Choosing to deny goods to any particular group of people regardless on whatever grounds is unconstitutional. The Constitution is there for everyone to read, so read it NFL!

  16. Most every other team in the league sets aside visitor tickets so that other fans can travel to the away games to support their teams, that’s part of the experience and what usually bonds fans of opposing teams, just a little friendly competition.
    By allowing the Seahawks to pull this kind of shenanigans, the league is just begging Jerry Jones to go all primal on visitors to Cowboy stadium for away games!
    Not to mention how it affects the hotels, restaurants and bars in that region who make their money on out of town guests looking for lodging during that time.
    By allowing Seattle to start this trend, you alienate the rest of the league and soon other teams will begin the same practice and only homers will have access to the games and there goes your tourism ads about who goes where and which credit card they use.

  17. Teams in every league do this. The Washington nationals did this openly and called it take back our park because they got mad so many phillies fans would go to dc for games. People from Delaware, New Jersey, and PA can’t buy nationals tickets. And this is apart of their promotions.

  18. Did the Seahawks take public money to build their stadium? If yes the policy should be illegal, if no then they should be able to sell where they want.

    And since Kraft is the only nfl owner to fully fund his stadium through private funding, the answer would I think be yes.

  19. So much for the legacy of the “12th man”…like everything else in the entertainment industry he was manufactured and this entire “special effect” was rigged!

  20. What a bunch of crap. Unfair? How many people who support the home team as taxpayers AND as fans, living IN the state, wanted but couldn’t get tickets?

  21. Denver did it as well. More lawsuits coming?

    No. Just shows how the whiner fans are still crying

  22. Niner fans writing letters about to much noise at clink .Sueing for hurt feelings. Man Frisco fans you need to start checking your own.This is really embarrassing for you.

  23. This is just crazy. Its just so sad to know this is what our society has come to when people feel the only way to get ahead is lawsuits. Again….. Crazy.

  24. As a Niner fan, this is embarassing. We’ve always been the much more classier and successful franchise. Bummer to see one fan taint that image.

    5>1. Go Niners!

  25. Boggles the mind. Seattle has one championship,San Fran has 5. I can’t grasp the holiness that Seahawks fans have conjured up. Ah well,in a hundred years you’ll catch up with the Steelers lol.

  26. That loss tore the hearts out of Niner fans everywhere and forever! I guess the guy can’t let it go. Seriously what a crushing loss. Now there gona pay Kap big money to blow it again. Niners taking a step back this year. See em getting to the D round and loosing.

  27. Let’s totally disregard the fact that this is near standard policy throughout all sports leagues. Let alone the fact that the Broncos were selling tickets that very same weekend with the same rules.

  28. The Seahawks did this to limit scalpers and 3rd party sites grabbing up seats. Why is that a bad thing? Why shouldn’t a HOME team give preferential treatment to HOME fans?

    The butthurt is strong with this one. But $50M? That’s insane.

    I hope the NFL lawyers pound this fool into oblivion.

  29. I think there were a grand total of a couple of thousand tickets….
    This loser probably can’t prove that he was “hurt” by this policy, so it will get thrown out.

  30. It won’t survive a 12(b)(6) motion.

    Two things of note: do not call yourself an avid football fan if you misname the team’s stadium whom you wish to call as a defendant in a lawsuit; and two, a man who represents himself has an idiot for a client.

    #ABOVEREPROACH
    #DYNASTY
    #REPETE

  31. The real reason 49ers fans are called whiner fans is that it rhymes. Nothing more. I’ve heard it for 32 years. First person I heard it from was 7 years old. The age of the person saying forty whiners has changed but the maturity of the person has not. This 49ers fan suing someone says absolutely nothing about 49ers fans as a whole. Thinking he speaks for all of us is lame and lazy thinking.

  32. They’re not called the 40 whiners for nothing. They need to keep Harbaugh. Talk about a match made in heaven. He’s the biggest baby in the nfl. NOBODY whines better than us!!! NOBODY!!!!! What a bunch of children.

  33. The NFL is a private corporation. Teams are franchises of this corporation. Whether or not a state or municipality chooses to give some money to one of these franchises to assist them in building a stadium changes nothing about the legal standing of this arrangement.

    As long as they are not basing their decision on race, age, or gender, they can refuse to sell tickets to anyone they want. It’s not “unconstitutional” to restrict your ticket sales area.

    Just another example of a person with misplaced priorities. It’s a football game, dude, get over it.

  34. Should be illegal. If you have to doctor your fan base, there’s no credibility to the 12th man claim. If Kansas City did that, they’d blow that stupid noise record out of the water. I’ve never seen a team go from completely irrelevant to completely despised as fast as the Seahawks. Congratulations Seattle, you should be so proud.

  35. Denver ran their playoff ticket sales the same way, but once again, it’s those eeeeevil Seahawks fans ruining the sanctity of the game for all.

    Yes, it’s true…the Seahawks don’t have as many 20+-year-old championships as the Niners, therefore we actually sold out a playoff game, showed up, and yelled our lungs inside-out, rather than selling our tix on StubHub so we could stay home and eat Santa Maria-style BBQ and drink delightful young pinot.

    Niner fan and a nuisance litigator? Why am I not surprised?

  36. San Francisco and Seattle fans had equal chances to buy tickets on Stub Hub. Many Niners fans did just that and attended the title game.

    But let’s get real– almost no season ticket holder had a shot at grabbing those few tickets that went on sale. There were about 3,000 tickets made available to the public. Seahawks earned homefield. Nothing wrong with giving fans in local markets a small advantage in trying to get a ticket. (.05% chance of hitting the ticketmaster perfectly in Seattle, versus 0% chance in San Francisco).

    Bluntly, if you want a ticket, you could have had one. Pay up, like so many thousands of other Seahawks and Niners fans did that day. But stop whining.

  37. He has a point. Don’t shoot your mouth off about your 12th man if you are afraid to have the opposing team in the building.

  38. And for all those saying that this guy actually has a case, he doesn’t. This will be thrown out and he will have wasted his money. But, hey, 15 minutes of fame, right?

  39. Is this guy for real? He’s mad because he didn’t get to watch his team lose? I don’t get it…every team in the NFL uses this practice, it’s called home field ADVANTAGE dude.

  40. 49ers whole organization is the worst. No leadership at front office, team of felons and degenerates and fans that write strongly written letters about being too loud, bus seat colors, not being able to attend games and getting beat by their “rival” time after time.

    Sad state of affairs for that bunch.

  41. if the NFL wants to start paying taxes, and stop taking public funding for stadiums they are free to do whatever they want as a PRIVATE business

    unfortunately that isn’t the case, and they should be sued and should lose this case

  42. This isn’t about the Seahawks or the 49ers. It’s about a policy that actually should be illegal. I hope the guy wins $1 or less, but the court rules that tickets cannot be restricted by US geography.

  43. “He has a point. Don’t shoot your mouth off about your 12th man if you are afraid to have the opposing team in the building.”

    As a Seahawks Season ticket holder, I can report that 49er fans were well represented during that game. I can’t remember a game where there were more fans from the opposing team. Other than Green Bay games in the Kingdome era, anyway.

  44. And if an area wants to limit their ticket sales then who cares…. It’s their stadium – if you want to watch your smelly whiners play in Seattle so badly then move to seattle – I live in the Bay Area but ill be damned if I ever step foot at a 40whiners field even if Seattle is playing them – is rather watch on TV than be around anything that has to do with SF or Santa Clata or anything 49er ish.

  45. Can we kick this guy from the fan base? I mean, like completely ban him from even claiming to be a football fan?

    P.S. Even Harbaugh said he respected Seattle’s decision.

  46. “…Every business or person has a right to sell or not sell to anyone. …”

    Absolutely dead wrong. You cannot limit your customers to people of your choosing.

    That’s how providers of public accomodations used to limit the ability of black people to travel, by restricting their right to rent a motel/hotel room to just white folks.

    That practice was outlawed quite a long time ago, the lawsuits trying to sustain it were overturned, and our country was the better for it.

    This suit may just have merit. I, for one, would not be surprised if this fan either 1) wins the suit, or 2) the teams settle out of court and agree not to engage in the practice in the future.

    Those who say these businesses should be able to discriminate against certain customers certainly do not understand our laws.

  47. Locational discrimination!

    Sure, I can pay 300% more than face value that I was denied by buying directly from the team. Heck ya! Sign me up for that. And you wonder why those of us that can afford to pay for tickets would rather just watch the game in the comfort of my own home in glorious HD!

  48. Seattle and Washington residents paid/pay taxes for the stadium, therefore they should have first dibs. If SF wants to help fund Seattle’s stadiums then start paying and next time you will have a chance. Why should the tax payers of Washington have to surrender ticket sales to out-of-staters?

  49. The hotel and bar/restaurant argument is garbage. I guarantee you the bars made more off of the Seattle fans than the San Fran fans would have brought in. I stayed in a hotel downtown and a majority of the people there were Seattle fans. I can’t remember the exact amount if tickets available for the game but it I think it was around 2000. The seahawks offered tickets to their season ticket waiting list before the ticketmaster sale. This dude is a joke I hope he ends up having to pay all the legal fees.

  50. Its ridiculous how much he’s suing for – but I think that the practice is ridiculous as well.

    I’m from Buffalo and am a Bills fan. It might take some effort, but try to imagine a world where the Bills are in the playoffs. I lived in New York for years, and my bank account had a NYC address/ZIP code. So if we were to play the Jets in a playoff game, would I be unable to buy those tickets under this practice? I get the point of it, but trust in your fans to fill the stadium instead of inconveniencing some of your teams’ biggest supporters, even if its only a few of them.

  51. Buddy shouldn’t get a cent. What damages did he incur because of this? Nothing! That being said, I hope the lawsuit changes this practice as anyone should be able to buy a football ticket, no matter where they are from. Public money, private money, it doesn’t matter.

  52. My money is just as green as the next guys.

    If I want to fly into your city, pay for a hotel and eat at your city’s fine dining establishments, why do you care which team I root for?

    I go to Giants games in Dallas every year and Mets games in San Fran.

    I’ve never felt unwanted when I pay my hotel bill.

  53. The guy should be fined $5000 and sentenced to 30 days in jail for filing such a meaningless and frivolous lawsuit wasting both the court’s time and taxpayers money.

    Sometimes life isn’t fair. Doesn’t mean you’re entitled to sue for $50 million.

  54. To the “If the stadium was built with public money” crowd. Even if public money was used to build the stadium, that public money came from Washington and mostly Seattle citizens. Unless California residents paid any penny towards the Seahawks stadium this argument has no ground to stand on.

    Also Businesses DO have the right to refuse service to anyone as long as theres no discrimination based on age,race, or religion.

    This whiny little punk of a 49er fan just needs to suck it up and realize that mostly ALL teams do this. I was at the game and there were more out of town fans in 49er gear at this game than any other visting fans Ive seen at any game I’ve ever been to.

  55. Its not a public event, the venue is public but the entity selling the tickets is private. The NFL sells the tickets, not the venue. This guy will get nowhere

  56. It was a COWARD move 100% but this guy seeking $50M over a $300 ticket is 90% of what is wrong with America. Sue anyone for anything. So with that said hope he loses and loses big.. or wins but is only awarded a game ticket for a game this season… STUPID

  57. They have an actual term for this kind of thing – “frivolous litigation”, and that’s precisely why this fan is representing himself in court.

    The judge will dismiss about 5 minutes after the Seahawks have one of their intern paralegals file the motion for dismissal on 12(b)(6). I seriously doubt that senior counsel will even look at the complaint.

    And for those talking about the Constitution, that’s just hilarious. Show me in the Constitution where federal trade regulation requires businesses to engage in interstate commerce. When you find that, then we can move on to the magical healing properties of unicorns and how to get rich quick hunting leprechaun gold.

    If anything, this case just further embarrasses the 49er fan base in an offseason of continuous humiliation. So much for being above reproach.

    #2014WorldChampions
    #HawksOwnTheWest

  58. I could understand wanting to sue for like $1k, but $50M? That’s absurd. Seattle didn’t fix anything. Harbaugh said SF would have done the same exact thing if they had home field. But they didn’t. Because they’re not as good as Seattle.

    #DYNASTY

  59. Unfair? Idiot. That is the point of being at home…you’re supposed to have an advantage.

    That’s like a dolphins fan suing because it snowed in buffalo and gave the bills an advantage.

  60. NFL teams are just franchises of the LEAGUE.

    What about folks who are NOT this man who is suing?

    Folks who travel to all of the baseball stadiums to see a game during the summer?

    What if an American citizen wants to attend a game at EACH NFL venue and their schedule allows for them to be in Seattle at that time but the LEAGUE is discriminating against them because of where they live?

    An American citizen simply wants to pay the admission fee to gain a ticket to go to a sporting event in this country and they are discriminated against simply because of where they live?

    That is not right.

    How about you live in the Seattle area and fly to Disney World in the summer to take your kids but they DON’T sell you tickets because you don’t live in the Orlando area?

    Yeah, it’s stupid… and I KNOW it’s not an exact same example… it’s the PRINCIPLE of being DENIED SOLELY due to where you live…

    I KNOW this won’t happen, but it’s how things have happened in the past.

    If it’s OK to limit sales to a certain distance around Seattle, then what’s to say that they can’t begin to restrict sales within CERTAIN parts of the Seattle area? Like the so called wrong side of the tracks area?

    What about a concert at an outdoor venue in Chicago or Cincinnati and you’re going to be there visiting relatives that week and want to go… OOPs, you live in Florida so we can’t let you attend.

    It’s beyond wrong.

  61. Is anyone else tired (and embarrassed) by the childish name calling? I love the rivalry and the debate, but calling the Niners the “Whiners” or the Seahawks “SheHawks” does nothing but discredit the rest of what you have to say.

    Brag about how great you think your team is or tell me why you can’t stand my team, but when you resort to making fun of another team’s name it only shows how weak and uneducated your arguments are.

  62. While I do agree that it’s an unfair practice, I can’t figure out why this guy thinks he deserves 50 million bucks over it. Hope the judge tosses it out

  63. It seems a bit prejudicial, but a lot of teams follow this practice.

    The pumping crowd noise through speakers though, now that is cheating….

  64. I font give a rats a$$ about what Seattle did to gain a noise advantage. Thats not why we lost the game,it turned on the touchdown call that we scored from the one,once we had to do it again Iupati broke his ankle and we were done stopping the inside pressure. Congrats hawks.. chancesof repeating are minimal in the NFL so good luck

  65. The Bronco’s did the same thing this past post season. Where is the outrage for that?

    This isn’t new in the NFL, or the three other major sports.

  66. What I wonder about because of the extremity of this action, is if this guy is the same one, or is associated with the person who’s been running a game highlights video on the internet, with their own interpretation of the play actions, and claiming that they “prove” that NFL games are rigged? The whole narration comes down to the Niners never should have lost, the Seahawks never should have won, etc.

    That video was one example of an extreme reaction. This lawsuit may just be another.

  67. If Seahawks fans are as awesome as they always like to tell you they are, there would be no need for this policy because they would be buying all of the tickets.

  68. The lawsuit is completely asinine. There were plenty of Niners fans who managed to get tickets to the game — how did that happen? And now this guy wants $50M because he was too stupid and lazy and unmotivated to get himself some tickets like the other Niners fan who somehow managed to do it?

    The Seahawks didn’t prevent him from going to the game, they didn’t bar him from entry. And they certainly didn’t discriminate against him based on his fandom.

  69. Being a free market capitalist, I don’t like the ticket sales restriction. Being a Hawks fan and season ticket holder at da CLink, I don’t want ANY opposing fans crashing our party, including the red and gold (no offense). Any seat not occupied by a 12 means one less screaming maniac (yes, we make our own noize). Sure, we should all have the option of attending road games. But, winning the NFC West is brutal, as is the top seed in NFC, and the winner earns home field and the advantage that comes with it. The 49ers will probably host NFCC at Levi next year (I think Seahawks have tougher road sched), so u might withhold judgment for a year.
    Best of luck next season and see u at Levi for Thanksgiving! The 12’s will be ready for ya in Dec at da CLink!

  70. Doubtless when the 12s travel to Levi’s we will have some Niner fans complaining that the team should be penalized because the Seahawk fans are too loud.
    The lawsuit is ridiculous because the fan will never be able to prove he suffered monetary loss in the amount of 50 million dollars.
    To an earlier poster I agree 100%, it is a shame that some posters fall back on name-calling.

  71. By the way, location is not a constitutionally protected category.
    It is not like religion, race etc…

  72. That 49ers fan must have no life. Really?

    If Seattle residents are paying for that stadium through their taxes, which no doubt they are, then they should get first dibs on tickets.

    49ers fan, be careful for what you wish for. The 49ers could have home field next season.

  73. What attorney would take this case, and how did they get $50m in damages for not being able to go to a single game?

    Nearly anyone can get a ticket if they want to buy one from 3rd parties.

  74. They do this all the time in European Soccer. You have to register with a supporters club (registered fan of the home team) to be able to purchase tickets. Pretty sure you need an ID that matches the name on the ticket to enter the stadium. Away fans are allowed a certain amount of tickets based on club size in a seperate sectioned off area.

    If Seattle wants to do this again, offering a small “away team fans” section in the upper tier of the stadium would be a logical and non discriminatory solution. Still you could argue that you’re giving special treatment in regards to premium seating.

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