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MLB teams to roll out ticket refund policies

Major League BaseballIt’s easy to forget that only a month of the 2020 MLB season has been lost to the coronavirus pandemic, but MLB teams are expected to announce this week ticket-refund policies for the games scrapped in April.

These refunds will take three forms, we’re told: straight-up refunds for those buying single-game tickets or a prorated refund for season-ticket holders, credits for future games for single-game ticket buyers, and incentives for season-ticket holders who decide to turn down a refund and leave their money with the MLB team. Each team will roll out its refund policy separately. (Since we’ve posted this story, MLB teams have stepped up with ticket-refund information. You can see what the Minnesota Twins are offering here.)

The move comes after much debate in Major League Baseball in the wake of a consumer class-action lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball and secondary-market ticket vendors StubHub and Ticketmaster by the Milberg Phillips Grossman LLP law firm. (Not, interestingly, While the lawsuit was a long shot — it takes months and months for such a lawsuit to be certified as a class action, and the legal system isn’t exactly running at full steam these days — the law firm declared victory in a press release:

“Due to our lawsuit, Milberg is gratified to anticipate some initial action by MLB teams. It is a shame that it has taken this lawsuit to get a response to endless inquiries about refunds. To be clear, the claims will not be resolved until ticket purchasers are refunded their money completely and immediately.”

Ticket refunds are a hot topic in the sports/venues and events industries. When an event is canceled (say, as was the case in spring training), the ticket firms are usually quick to issue refunds or, in the case of third-party resellers, offer a 120-150 percent bonus on a future ticket buy if the funds remain with the reseller. But if an event is postponed, rescheduled or put on hold, the ticket firms hang onto the funds under the theory that the event is still pending, and that the transaction is still valid because there is a commitment to fulfill the terms of the original ticket purchase. But that practice is going by the wayside: last week Ticketmaster announced that refunds would be issued to concerts and events that have not been rescheduled.

With daily news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we launched a new Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge to industry professionals. Sign up here.

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