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Nevada man sues Seahawks, NFL for $40 million over limiting playoff ticket sales

Richard Sherman tips a pass in the waning moments to help the Seahawks clinch the NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field. A Nevada man is now suing the Seahawks and others for limiting ticket sales to the Pacific Northwest for the game. (AP image)

A Seahawks fan who wasn't allowed to buy tickets to the NFC Championship between the Seahawks and 49ers because he lives in Nevada is now suing because sales were limited to fans in the Northwest.

John E. Williams III is seeking $40 million in damages in the federal complaint. It accuses the Seahawks, NFL, Ticketmaster and others of fraud for what he calls "unconstitutional 'selective sales' of tickets to national events held in public stadiums, including Qwest Field," the Seattle PI first reported. The suit repeatedly misidentifies CenturyLink Field by its old name, and sometimes misspells it as "Quest".

Because of high demand and limited availability, the Seahawks limited ticket sales to the game to Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, British Columbia, and Alberta.

Williams argues because the NFL is exempt from paying federal income taxes and because most stadiums are financed with public funds, fans anywhere should be allowed to buy tickets to any game, anywhere.

"In spite of the stadium being built with public funds, and billed as a public event," the complaint states, "(Williams) was denied the ability to purchase a ticket to the game because of the economic discrimination and violation of public accommodation solely because his credit card was not issued in the restrictive states or Canada which is not even part of the United States, whose citizens have not contributed to the taxers used to build the stadium."

Williams is described in the complaint as an "avid football fan," and he appears to have filed the lawsuit himself, without an attorney. It was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

"The practice of withholding the sale of tickets from the public at large, and allowing only credit card holders limited to certain areas is a violation of the Federal Consumer Fraud Act and/or common law," the suit says.

Williams refused to comment Tuesday, telling KIRO Radio he planned a news conference Wednesday in Las Vegas.

While there was plenty of criticism leveled at the Seahawks for limiting sales, the team is far from alone. The Denver Broncos also limited ticket sales to the AFC Championship Game to Colorado and surrounding states, but did not draw the same outrage. Other teams have limited sales by geography in the past as well.

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About the Author

Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He covers everything from May Day riots in Seattle to the latest Boeing news.


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