Fighting the Web, Sports Teams Seek to Control Ticket Resales

When the
N.B.A. finals resume today in

Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cavaliers, will be showing off the youngest,
flashiest asset in his portfolio.

No, not LeBron James, whose team may be headed to an
ignominious sweep by the San Antonio Spurs. Last year, Mr. Gilbert, the founder
of an online mortgage company, acquired Flash Seats, a small ticketing company
with offices in
Cleveland and

San Jose,

company gives Cavaliers season-ticket holders the option to forgo paper tickets
and simply swipe their credit card or driver’s license when they enter the
arena. If they want to resell their seats, instead of using a ticket broker or
a Web site like eBay, they must go to the Flash Seats site at
There, they can set any price for their seats or view auction-style bids from
potential buyers, with the company taking a 20 percent fee from the buyer.

Seats allows sports teams to exert total control over who fills their seats,
and to fight back against sites like Craigslist, eBay, TicketsNow and StubHub,
which have transformed the shady world of ticket scalping into a
$3-billion-a-year business.


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