If you’re a basketball fan in Minnesota, times are tough. On the college side of things, the Golden Gophers men’s basketball squad is just 8-21 with only two wins in the Big Ten. In the NBA, the T-Wolves are bad again, sitting at just 19-42 and eleven full games out of a playoff spot.
Still, the Wolves are at least a potentially exciting team to watch on any given night. The team has young stars like Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, and Timberwolves tickets should be cheap considering they’re one of the bottom teams in the league, right? Not exactly.
Although the New York Yankees have been getting a lot of flack for their new policy forcing fans to use the team’s preferred ticket buying service, the Timberwolves have been doing the same thing all year, and now they’re being sued for it. Deadspin’s Tom Ley has a summary of what the issue is.
This season, the T-Wolves eliminated paper tickets entirely, and began requiring all ticket purchasers to claim their tickets digitally via an app called Flash Seats. The problem is that fans who want to re-sell tickets on the secondary market must do so through Flash Seats, which not only charges fees to both the buyer and seller—the suit claims the team gets a 15-percent cut of these fees—but also institutes artificial price floors on a game-to-game basis. According to the lawsuit, this floor is usually 75 percent or more of the ticket’s face value.
As a result, a group of Wolves fans has banded together to file a class-action lawsuit against the team. The plaintiffs claim that the ticket policy “fundamentally, and unlawfully, alters the way Timberwolves ticket holders may use and transfer tickets.” The suit cites an example of season ticket holder James Mattson (one of the plaintiffs), who attempted to sell his ticket for a Wolves’ game against the Celtics earlier this season. The ticket had a face value of $240, and Mattson was looking to sell it for only $100, but was not allowed to set the price below $180 on Flash Seats.
To make matters worse, the policy allegedly doubly screws over season ticket holders (you know, the people who have paid thousands of dollars to support a below average team) who bought their season tickets before using Flash Seats became the required method of purchase. It’s a big reason why Minnesota has the worst home attendance in the league this year — even worse than the Nets and 76ers! — despite, again, having young studs like Wiggins and Towns on their roster.
In response to the suit, Timberwolves President Charles Wright said in a statement:
“The Timberwolves and Lynx organizations are confident that Flash Seats supplies the best possible experience for our fans. Flash Seats gives our ticket holders the maximum possible convenience and complete control over their Timberwolves and Lynx tickets. We are committed to continuing to give our fans the best possible experience.”