Chargers to Patriots: No tickets for you

Sean Cole Jan 10, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Discrimination in sports is a very real problem. This next story, however, is a little different. The San Diego Chargers are restricting the sale of tickets to this weekend’s playoff game against the New England Patriots. The Chargers want to hang onto their home-field advantage. So it’ll be Southern California residents only at the game. Patriots fans need not apply. Marketplace’s Sean Cole has the reaction from Boston.

SEAN COLE: This weekend’s game between the Chargers and the Patriots will decide who goes to the AFC Championship. And the Chargers say they want to make their home-field advantage as advantageous as possible — pack the stadium with their own fans. So how do Pats fans feel about being denied tickets to the game? I headed down to the Sports Depot sports bar in Boston expecting to find Pats fans gnashing their teeth and setting small fires. Instead, two sedate ad men sat at the bar enjoying their lunch. One of them was named Jay Nelson.

JAY NELSON: If I were a transplant living out there, it would be great ’cause I could go. But, I mean, if I wanted to go on a vacation to go out there to watch the game I guess I couldn’t go, right? That’s the idea.

COLE: Right.

NELSON: No, it’s not fair, but I don’t know what can be done about it.

Nor did he think it was going to determine who wins. His buddy Tim Sprague didn’t think so, either.

TIM SPRAGUE: I think a few hundred Patriots fans wouldn’t make that much of a difference. I think it’s gonna come down to who does it on the field. Not in the stands.

But beyond how it affects the game, the real question is “Are you allowed to restrict a sporting event to a certain population?”

MARCUS DINITTO: They’re not breaking any laws. The NFL has no policy against it.

Marcus DiNitto is the managing editor of Sports Business Daily. He says limiting ticket sales is not only kosher, it’s relatively common.

DINITTO: In fact, the Chicago Bears are doing a similar thing this weekend. The Mavericks have done it before, the Eagles have done it before. So this is really not a new practice. And I don’t think Patriots fans should be surprised that they’re not able to buy tickets.

And if they try, Ticketmaster says it’ll cancel those tickets without notice and refund the money.

In Boston, I’m Sean Cole for Marketplace. Go Pats.

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