Timberwolves Fans Suing Over Team’s New Paperless Ticketing System

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Sometimes, even the biggest sports fans can’t make it to their team’s game, for whatever reason (rain, snow, sleet, in-laws visiting unannounced) and in those cases, they might want to sell their ticket to someone else. That process has been “fundamentally, unlawfully” altered for fans of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, a new class-action lawsuit alleges, after the team instituted a new paperless ticketing system.

The Flash Seats system was instituted for the Timberwolves’ 2015-16, as well as for tickets to WNBA games played by the Minnesota Lynx. According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Hennepin County, it only serves to pad the pockets of the organization while hurting ticket buyers, reports the Minnesota Tribune.

With the new system, ticket buyers use an app on their mobile device or scan a credit card or ID to claim their seats once they’ve arrived at Target Center.

Making fans use paperless tickets allows the Timberwolves to “control the use, resale, and transfer of tickets by season-ticket holders — and to employ minimum resale prices, added fees, and other draconian restrictions on subsequent transfers of the tickets,” the lawsuit alleges.

GLS Companies and an individual ticket buyer are the plaintiffs in the case; both hold season tickets for the current season. The suit alleges that the organization didn’t implement the Flash Seats system until after season-ticket holders had already forked over more than $20,000 for this season’s tickets. Had they known about the change, they might not have purchased those tickets, the lawsuit says.

Ticket holders are limited to reselling their tickets through Flash Seats, which only serves to profit the Timberwolves, the lawsuit says, making it “impossible for ticket holders to list the tickets on a secondary marketplace or platform such as StubHub or Ticketmaster, or even to physically sell or transfer them in a hand-to-hand transaction.”

The minimum resale price required through Flash Seats affected the individual plaintiff recently, when he tried to sell his $240 face value tickets to the Wolves vs. Celtics Feb. 22 game for just $100 each, the lawsuit says. He could only set his price at $180 or higher, however, with Flash Seats, and ended up not being able to sell them and recoup any of his money.

“We are aware that a lawsuit was filed this morning in Hennepin County District Court and it is our policy not to comment on pending litigation,” reads a statement from the organization released on Thursday from President Chris Wright. “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.”

Timberwolves sued over paperless ticket policy [Minnesota Tribune]