SBD/Issue 242/Franchises

Redskins File Lawsuits Against Ticket-Holders Looking To Bail

The Redskins in the past five years have sued 125 season-ticket holders who "asked to be released from multiyear contracts," according to a front-page piece by James Grimaldi. WFI Stadium Inc., controlled by Redskins Owner Dan Snyder, sued the 125 fans for a total of $3.6M, and the team won judgments totaling $2M from 34 of the ticket holders, "most of whom did not hire an attorney and defaulted by not making an appearance in court." Most of the effected fans said that they were "victims of the economic downturn, having lost a job or experiencing some other financial hardship," and added that when they "requested relief, they were offered settlements that required them to make hefty payments over time." Redskins General Counsel David Donovan said that the team has agreed to "reduce the number of seats in a contract, waived contracts for a year, shortened contracts and terminated contracts entirely." Donovan contends that lawsuits are a "last resort that involve a small percentage of the team's 20,000 annual premium seat contracts," adding that most of the suits are "filed after people 'simply refuse to negotiate'" with the team. He said, "The Washington Redskins routinely work out payment plans and alternate arrangements with hundreds of ticket holders every year. For every one we sue, I would guess we work out a deal with half a dozen." In addition, about 12 companies "bailed out on their luxury skybox leases" at FedExField in the past year, and the Redskins have won $8M in judgments in eight of those instances (WASHINGTON POST, 9/3).

SECONDARY COVERAGE: The Washington Post’s James Grimaldi said of his report yesterday that revealed the Redskins were selling tickets to brokers, “This story I think does sort of shine a light on the secondary market, which is huge and all the brokers that are out there that are buying tickets, not only from season-ticket holders, but in this case, they’re buying them straight from the Redskins ticket office. You can go online and get tickets to almost any game and there’s a marketplace out there. ... It’s happening all over the country" (“Washington Post Live,” CSN Mid-Atlantic, 9/2).

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