Judge tells ticket reseller to name supplier
He sets a deadline of Monday morning, threatens penalties
A Quincy District Court judge yesterday threatened a Weymouth ticket reseller with financial sanctions if it refuses to publicly identify one of its key suppliers of tickets for Red Sox games.
Judge Mark S. Coven gave Admit One Ticket Agency LLC until Monday morning to either get a higher state court to temporarily stay his ruling, or else turn over the name of its ticket supplier to Dorchester consumer activist Colman Herman , who is suing the company for alleged violations of the state's antiscalping law.
Coven said he would hold Admit One in contempt and impose financial sanctions if the company fails to win a stay and still doesn't identify its ticket supplier.
Admit One's attorney indicated in court yesterday the company would seek a temporary stay.
In his lawsuit against Admit One, Herman says the company violated the antiscalping law by offering to sell him a ticket to a Red Sox-Yankees game in 2005 for $500. The ticket had a face value of $80.
The state's antiscalping statute, passed in 1924, requires ticket resellers to be licensed by the state Department of Public Safety and charge no more than $2 above face value, plus certain service charges and business expenses.
Admit One, which operates the RedSoxTix.com website, has said in previous court sessions that the $420 markup on the Red Sox-Yankees ticket was legitimate because nearly all of it was for expenses allowed under the law, including office rent, payroll, credit card fees, and advertising costs. The company also said it did not violate the antiscalping law because Herman never actually purchased the ticket.
Katherine Watras , Admit One's attorney, told Coven yesterday the company is willing to divulge its supplier's name, but it wants the judge to issue a protective order that would prevent the information from becoming public. Watras said the supplier provided 37 percent of all of Admit One's tickets in 2005, and competitors would try to woo it away if identified.
Coven denied Admit One's initial request for a protective order April 9 and yesterday refused to reconsider that decision.
"The public's interest in knowing is greater than the potential economic loss to your client," Coven said.
Coven also said Admit One's ticket supplier may be violating the antiscalping law. According to court filings, Admit One purchased 14 loge box seats for all 81 Red Sox home games from its supplier in 2005. The Red Sox charged $80 apiece for the tickets. Admit One paid its supplier a total of $135,550, or an average of $120 per ticket, and resold 96 percent of the tickets for a total of $231,627, or an average of $214 a ticket.
"You don't have to be a mathematician to say that they may have violated the statute themselves," Coven said of Admit One's ticket supplier.
Coven indicated Admit One was trying to keep the name of its supplier secret to shield him or her from scrutiny by the state Department of Public Safety. Admit One has said its ticket supplier is licensed.
The antiscalping law, after years of almost total neglect, is currently the focus of intense legal and law enforcement scrutiny. Boston Police are cracking down on ticket resellers outside Fenway Park, the New England Patriots are suing San Francisco-based reseller StubHub Inc. for encouraging fans to violate the antiscalping law, and Herman has legal actions pending against Admit One in Quincy District Court and against Higs Cityside Tickets Inc. of Boston before the Department of Public Safety.
The state Legislature's Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee has scheduled a hearing for May 16 on ticket laws. A number of bills dealing with resales are pending. Some would tighten the existing restrictions while others would loosen or eliminate them.
Bruce Mohl can be reached at email@example.com.