Yankees Could Take Over StubHub Site Near the Stadium

By Patrick Wall on July 31, 2013 9:27am 

Slideshow
 Court documents filed this month say the two sides have discussed the idea of transferring the storefront at 68 E. 161st St. from StubHub to the Yankees.
Yankees Look at StubHub Site
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CONCOURSE — The Yankees already blocked StubHub from opening a ticket pick-up center near their stadium — now they may take over the storefront where their online competitor had hoped to operate, court documents show.

Shortly before this season’s home opener, the Bronx Bombers filed a lawsuit and won a temporary restraining order that prevented the ticket pick-up site from opening on the grounds that it violated a law that bans scalping within 1,500 feet of sports venues.

The two sides agreed to a confidential settlement in April, and now they are mulling the idea of the Yankees taking over the never-opened StubHub storefront, according to a document filed in Bronx Supreme Court this month when the Yankees formally dropped their lawsuit.

“Plaintiff and Defendants are engaged in discussions about the possibility of Plaintiff taking over the location at 68 East 161st Street from Defendants,” the document says.

Spokespeople for both sides declined to comment on the storefront, which StubHub began renting out early this year.

Meanwhile, StubHub has made permanent a ticket drop-off, retrieval and printing center at the Bronx Terminal Market — which falls outside the 1,500-foot no-scalping zone — that the company opened at the last minute this season while the lawsuit was in court.

While that might suggest that the online ticket-exchange company has given up on the 161st Street store, a StubHub lawyer emphasized that the company could still use that site for purposes other than ticket distribution.

“It’s not as if that [anti-scalping] provision can keep anyone from opening a location for any purpose,” said the lawyer, Eric Hochstadt. “They can open a location for certain purposes and not for others.”

The court document, filed July 8, said any transfer of the storefront would be “contingent on landlord approval.”

The property owner, Sam Cohen, said he received a call from StubHub about a month ago when it raised the possibility of turning the property over to the Yankees, but that he has not heard from the eBay-owned company since then.

“Everything is classified,” Cohen said. “They’re not really talking about it.”

Cohen, who owns a wholesale lingerie business, had operated a clothing shop called Jeans Plus in the storefront until StubHub approached him at the beginning of the year and “gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” he said.

Cohen agreed to move out and StubHub signed a 10-year lease with an option to renew for an additional five years, Cohen said. Then the company overhauled the space.

“They put a lot of money into it,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”

But just as the ticket center was set to open in time for the season’s first game, the Yankees obtained the restraining order.

Cohen said StubHub was well aware of the 1,500-foot rule from the outset, but that they wanted to challenge the ball club.

“They wanted to fight the Yankees,” Cohen said. “There’s a lot of testosterone going on over there.”

In December, the Yankees dropped StubHub as their official secondary ticket market and later set up their own online ticket exchange. Shortly after, StubHub scooped up the storefront.

When the Yankees filed suit in March, StubHub claimed it was a business move meant to strike out their competition.

In court, the company claimed that as an online exchange it was exempt from the scalping law, but the judge seemed skeptical of that argument.

The two sides agreed to a confidential settlement in April, which they finalized this month.

That agreement includes a clause “for the avoidance of doubt,” which says the Yankees can still sue again if StubHub opens a store they believe violates the 1,500-foot rule.

Meanwhile, in recent weeks, coverings have been removed from the storefront’s bright blue awnings, so that it now reads, “Coming Soon — StubHub!”

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