Seeking to enforce its policy prohibiting ticket resales, the New England Patriots have obtained the names of 13,000 people who tried to buy or sell the team's game tickets using StubHub Inc.
The Patriots obtained the names last week as part of an ongoing court dispute with StubHub, the online ticket marketplace owned by eBay Inc.
StubHub today began notifying the 13,000 customers that their names had been turned over to the Patriots.
The Patriots declined to say today whether season ticket holders who resold their tickets on StubHub would have their tickets canceled. But that's what the team said it planned to do when it asked Superior Court Judge Allan van Gestel to order StubHub to turn over the names.
The judge, in his ruling, pointed out: "The Patriots have said that they intend to use the identities of the purchasers and sellers not only for this case, but also for its own other allegedly legitimate uses, such as canceling season tickets of 'violators' or reporting to authorities those customers that they deem to be in violation of the Massachusetts antiscalping law."
Van Gestel ordered StubHub to turn over the names on July 31 but stayed the decision after StubHub filed an appeal. The appeal was denied and late last month van Gestel ordered StubHub to turn over the names.
The Patriots have taken an unusually strong public stance against ticket scalping. The team prohibits season ticket holders from reselling their tickets above face value and periodically revokes the tickets of fans it catches doing just that.
StubHub vigorously opposed the Patriots' request, arguing it violates the confidentiality agreement with its customers. StubHub, which filed a countersuit against the Patriots, said the team wants to create a monopoly on the resale market for its own tickets.
"Indeed, it is plain that the Patriots seek this highly confidential customer information to further their unlawful, anticompetitive campaign against StubHub and its customers," the company said in court papers.
The Patriots, however, argue they are entitled to know who may be violating their rules and the state's anti-scalping law. The team says it is trying to ensure that fans get tickets at reasonable prices, not the sometimes exorbitant prices through ticket agents.
On Thursday, two 50-yardline tickets for New England's Dec. 16 game against AFC rival New York Jets were listed for $1,300.05 each. The face value is $125.
"One of our claims against StubHub is that knowing we have rules against resale on the Internet, that they are out there soliciting people to violate our rules," said Daniel Goldberg, an attorney for the Patriots. "In order to pursue that claim, we need to understand who has been persuaded by that inducement to list their tickets (on StubHub)." Goldberg said the Patriots' rules on resale are clear and printed on the back of every ticket.
"We have hundreds of people on waiting lists willing to comply with our rules, so if individuals prefer not to comply with the rules, that's their choice," he said.
Goldberg would not say how the Patriots plan to use the customer information provided by StubHub.
The Patriots have revoked tickets of fans who resell on any site except the Patriots' own TeamExchange website, which limits sales to face value. That website is run by Ticketmaster.
Tony Troilo, a season ticket holder from Mansfield, said he appreciates the Patriots' efforts to protect its fans by strictly enforcing its rules against ticket scalping.
"But on the flip side of that, I think there are probably a lot of good, loyal fans who for whatever reason can't make it to a game and obviously don't want to eat the ticket," Troilo said. "It seems like it shouldn't be a crime for them to go on StubHub.com."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.