A couple of days ago an article was published on Forbes about the Miami Marlins filing a lawsuit  over a dispute dealing with season tickets, that had us raising eyebrows around the office. While it’s not uncommon to hear about fans suing teams over disputes such as the latest one dealing with Timberwolves fans suing over the new paperless ticketing system. What is uncommon to see is a professional team going after a fan. The franchise claims that Florida resident Mickey Axelband owes $24,300 in damages for failing to pay half of the $48,600 that he allegedly owes for two seasons tickets purchased in 2011.

Let’s break this down….

The Fan

Mickey Axelband is a long time fan that claims he has supported the club since their first game back in April of 1993 and since the pending lawsuit has sought out legal counsel:

According to Axelband’s legal counsel, Daniel J. Rose, his client bought season tickets to the Marlins in 2011 for a two year span, and “the team reneged on everything.” Rose claims that the Marlins failed to provide seats in the special lounge, as allegedly promised, for a month. After two weeks, all exclusive items promised to Axelband by the Marlins were no longer on the table, according to Rose.

So if it’s true what the fan is saying and the team didn’t come through on their half of the bargain you could see why he would be upset. Once a team presents an offer and guarantees you’re going to receive certain benefits as a ticket holder, then it becomes their obligation to come through at the end of the day. Especially if that fan has just agreed to pay you a little under $49,000. Apparently Axelband thinks so too:

“[T]he Plaintiff is claiming somehow, the Defendant was unjustly enriched by not paying for and attending games in the 2012 season. (Perhaps if the Marlins had delivered on the representations and warranties under the Contract which they summarily removed day by day, the Defendant would have remained a season ticket holder),” states a portion of the motion.

Our fan has also decided firing back at the ballclub by asking they provide copies of their financial documents:

Axelband has served a first request for production of documents in conjunction with his filing of a motion to dismiss the action. Among Axelband’s requests is that the Marlins provide a copy of any and all profit and loss statements for 2011 and 2012 and all financial documents, including but not limited to tax returns, state and federal for the plaintiff for 2011 and 2012.

See his full motion to dismiss here

The Marlins

Now let’s look at this lawsuit from the teams perspective:

If season ticket holders believed that they could relieve themselves from contractual obligations at the snap of their fingers, then it would tear apart the model of season ticket sales.

The model of season ticket sales…. This is crucial. If fans could simply order a pair of great season tickets, pick up some free promotional items, then call it a day and not pay the remaining balance then everyone would be doing it. And their favorite team would be out of business. Season tickets are the backbone to every teams financial success. Do they come with a hefty price tag? Of course, but there is a reason for it. That revenue goes towards building the exciting gameday experience every fan craves and towards the big multi-million dollar contracts being paid to players such as oh, I don’t know…. Giancarlo Stanton.

All of that money doesn’t go straight into the pockets of owners. Most of it goes back into the stadium, promotional items, and players. Teams can’t survive without the support of fans, many have collapsed because of this reason alone. So you can understand when a fan agrees to pay a certain amount, they’re counting on that money in to fulfill their responsibility of creating a successful ballclub.

See the pending lawsuit here

As you can see in the document above, the lawsuit was filed over a year ago, so it’s interesting that this story is just breaking now. Hopefully you gained some insight into the matter and while a professional team suing a fan is uncommon, what’s not uncommon is what both parties are complaining about. This type of situation is all too common in the minor leagues. We’ve observed first hand both a fan purchasing season tickets and then magically disappearing, as well as a team not following through on what they promised. It will be interesting to find out how this plays out and if it will detour Marlin fans from purchasing tickets in the future.

Let us know your thoughts on the situation in the comments below.

Update: After some digging online we found an article about another couple who had a similar problem with the Marlins a few years back.