As online ticket scalping has become the norm for the NFL and other sports leagues, the NFL has agreed to stop mandating a practice that had gotten them scrutinized by attorneys general in six different jurisdictions.
Via Ken Belson of the New York Times, the league no longer will push teams to set minimum prices for tickets resold online. The settlement caps an investigation into whether the practice of setting a price floor violates antitrust laws.
The teams can still decide to apply minimums; the league won’t tell them that they have to, formally or informally. The resolution, struck with Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, included an agreement to pay $100,000 to cover the costs incurred by the attorneys general.
Belson explains that the ability to resell tickets online at less than face value has made it harder for teams to sell full-price tickets. This has caused some teams, at the urging of the NFL, to prevent the online resale of tickets by teams at prices below face value.
The league called the settlement “favorable” and pointed out that the investigation identified no injury to consumers. The NFL also noted that the requirement of minimum pricing has dropped before the 2016 season.
It’s the right result. Folks who buy tickets to games should be able to sell them at a loss — especially if no one else wants to buy the tickets at face value. The league’s claim that there was no injury to consumers implies that the investigation found not a single consumer who was stuck with tickets because they were unable to find someone to buy the seats at the cost printed on the tickets.
Which suggests that the investigation was resolved before the six attorneys general fully rolled up their sleeves and tracked down evidence from fans who were unable to unload tickets to December home games in places like Cleveland, Jacksonville, and/or Tampa Bay.