ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York authorities are investigating whether the NFL is engaging in anti-competitive practices on its ticket-selling website, an official said Thursday.
The investigation is part of a larger probe by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into high event ticket pricing.
Schneiderman released a report Thursday that criticizes "price floors" for game tickets, particularly by sports leagues including the NFL.
The report said many NFL teams encourage or even require ticket holders to use Ticketmaster's NFL Ticket Exchange platform, where the seller is prohibited from cutting the price below face value. That prevents lower prices when demand drops, making it harder for season ticket holders to sell their tickets late in a season when their team is playing poorly.
An official with knowledge of the investigation said Schneiderman's office is investigating and wants the price floor removed. The official wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
An NFL spokesman said the NFL Ticket Exchange is just one of many options for ticket holders to buy or sell tickets.
"The NFL does not require them to use the Ticket Exchange," Brian McCarthy said. "The NFL imposes no restrictions whatsoever on any fan's ability to buy or resell tickets on other secondary ticketing sites or to do so at any price they choose. "
The report cited an example where the restrictions keep poorer fans from attending any games.
"Near the end of an unsuccessful baseball season, the tickets to watch a team not destined for the playoffs may go down sharply, allowing fans who otherwise might not be able to afford to see a match to buy tickets for far less money," it said.
While ticket holders can sell elsewhere, they are pushed toward the official ticket exchange platform. The report said it "is frequently billed as the official resale site and the only 'safe' place to buy secondary NFL tickets."
The report also said that the New York Yankees have also put in place a price floor.
A spokeswoman for the team said the Yankees Ticket Exchange is "a completely voluntary program" and a small percentage of the market.
"It is however the only place where a fan can be guaranteed a safe ticket," Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion said.