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Yankees File Suit to Block StubHub Pick-Up Center by Stadium

By Patrick Wall | March 20, 2013 1:38pm

CONCOURSE — The Yankees have told StubHub to stay away from their stadium — no less than 1,500 feet away, in fact, according to a lawsuit the Bombers filed against the online ticket exchange company.

On Tuesday, Bronx Supreme Court Judge Lizbeth Gonzalez granted the Yankees a temporary restraining order that bars StubHub from opening a planned ticket pick-up site within 1,500 feet of the stadium — a zone that state law makes off limits to ticket scalpers.

Gonzalez advised the ticket company Tuesday to consider a new spot beyond that zone.

She will decide at a hearing on March 25 whether the ban should remain permanently.

The Yankees argue that the pick-up location represents the “completion of sale” of online ticket purchases and so violates the 1,500-feet rule.

StubHub insists that the pick-up center, currently under construction inside a storefront at 68 E. 161st Street, does not break the scalping law and that the lawsuit is simply a business move.

“The real issue is that the Yankees just don’t want to compete,” said StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman. “I would guess that they feel like they can’t compete — or that this is the only way that they can.”

Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The Yankees have complained that StubHub’s unrestricted online market allows speculators to push resale ticket prices below face value, undercutting the team’s prices and driving down attendance. StubHub says the Yankees’ steep ticket prices spurred their sagging attendance over the last couple seasons.

In December, the Yankees opted out of a new five-year Major League Baseball deal to keep StubHub as the league’s official ticket reseller.

Last month, they unveiled their own official resale site, Yankees Ticket Exchange, created in partnership with Ticketmaster.

Lehrman said the lawsuit is one of several recent attempts by the Bombers to tag out StubHub and force buyers to their new exchange.

The team threatened to yank its business from a Holiday Inn near its Tampa training site unless the manager barred StubHub from distributing tickets there, Lehrman said. (McGillion called that account “not accurate,” but declined to elaborate.)

The Yankees have also failed to tell season-ticket holders that they can convert their tickets to PDF files, Lehrman said, which would allow holders to email their tickets to online buyers.

The team has said its new official ticket exchange is safer and more convenient for Yankees fans than other unofficial resale markets, such as StubHub.

StubHub had hoped to open its Yankee-area pick-up site by the home opener on April 1, but may have to alter its plans based on the judge’s final decision.

“If it means that it’s not ready for opening day, that’s not going to be the end of the world for us,” Lehrman said. “We’re not taking a short-term view of this.”