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StubHub sues Ticketmaster and Golden State Warriors over 'unfair' scalper market

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One of basketball's most popular teams accused of conspiring with Ticketmaster

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Two ticketing companies that consumers don't particularly love are about to duke it out in court. StubHub today announced that it's suing both Ticketmaster and the NBA's Golden State Warriors over antitrust charges, accusing Ticketmaster and the Warriors of unfairly pressuring season ticket holders to resell their seats through Ticketmaster's own services instead of the eBay-owned StubHub or another secondary market exchange.

In many cases, StubHub says Ticketmaster — the exclusive ticketing partner for the Warriors — cancelled or threatened to revoke regular season and playoff game tickets if fans attempted to sell them through StubHub. In others, Ticketmaster pushed back shipping until just a few days before a game, severely limiting a customer's options for resale. Fans were also warned they wouldn't be offered future playoff seats for selling outside Ticketmaster.

Stubhub says Ticketmaster isn't giving fans any choice but its own for reselling tickets

These tactics have led StubHub's ticket listings for Golden State games to plummet by 80 percent in a single year, which the company says is proof that Ticketmaster's anticompetitive behavior is having dire consequences. "Numerous Warriors fans historically have chosen to utilize StubHub for Secondary Ticket Exchange services because of its superior customer service, substantial brand equity, competitive pricing, customer protection and guarantees of timely ticket delivery and validity," the complaint reads. And these are hot tickets; according to ESPN, the Warriors have sold out 118 straight home games and have a waiting list of over 10,000 people for season tickets.

The lawsuit says this "systematic" and coordinated effort between the NBA team and Ticketmaster prevents fans from having a choice when it comes to reselling tickets for games they can't attend. StubHub also insists Ticketmaster and the Warriors are artificially driving up prices that might well be lower if its own exchange were in the picture. Of course, StubHub itself is often associated with the scalper market; tickets for popular shows can command hundreds or thousands of dollars.

But StubHub says everyone will be worse off if Ticketmaster is allowed to continue on like this — and the repercussions could extend to other sports or entertainment events. "If the anticompetitive actions complained of herein are not stopped, Ticketmaster is likely to seek to replicate them with other teams and entertainment venues throughout the United States, restricting more consumers to a single Secondary Ticket Exchange and forcing competitors and innovators, such as StubHub, to exit the business."