Bucs season ticket holders sue team for revoking their purchase of seats without warning

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans cheer after a touchdown during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers home opener against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on September 17, 2017.  the Bucs are being sued by longtime fans for taking away their ability to purchase season tickets. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans cheer after a touchdown during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers home opener against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on September 17, 2017. the Bucs are being sued by longtime fans for taking away their ability to purchase season tickets. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published January 26 2018
Updated January 26 2018

Despite being among the NFL teams with the lowest attendance, the Bucs are being sued by longtime fans for taking away their ability to purchase season tickets.

Two season ticket holders – Sean Fontaine and Louis Mendel – said the Bucs revoked their season tickets for "no legitimate reason," in a class action lawsuit filed against the pro football franchise in Hillsborough County Court on Thursday.

The Bucs had no comment on the lawsuit Friday, but in responding to similar complaints last fall from fans who had their season ticket purchases revoked, the team said they are trying to stop account holders they have been identified as ticket re-sellers to opposing fans.

Fontaine, a resident of Pasco County, has been a Bucs season ticket holder since 2012.  According to the lawsuit, he bought seven season tickets in Nov. 2016 for $3,267.36 through one of the team's member relations associates.

In February 2017, Fontaine said he was informed by a Bucs sales associate that the price of his tickets had increased by $873.17, which he paid, according to court documents.

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In April, the Bucs informed Fontaine his purchase was revoked and the money would be refunded because he had sold six of his tickets in Oct. 2016.

Fontaine was "shocked," and said he had received no prior description of policy barring the resale of tickets.

Mendel, a resident of Hillsborough, underwent a similar experience. A Bucs season ticket holder since 1995, he bought 15 season tickets $14,139.06 in November 2016. Five months later, Mendel learned from a fellow season ticket holder that his seats were for sale.

"He was even more amazed the Bucs would be offering his season tickets for sale prior to sending him the full refund for the money he sent into renew his season tickets,'' the lawsuit claimed.

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According to documents, both men believe the Bucs are standing behind the assertion that since a few season tickets "are being purchased by opposing sports team fans, this somehow dilutes the preferred solidarity and atmosphere of season ticket holders that are fans of the home team.''

Fontaine and Mendel are asking for a judgement against the Bucs for breach of contract.

The Bucs finished 29th out of 32 teams in average home announced attendance last year, dropping one spot from 2016. The average announced attendance based on tickets distributed was 59,952, down 1.1 percent from the average of 60,625 a year earlier. The actual attendance – a turnstile count reported to the Tampa Sports Authority – averaged 51,912 last season, down 2.4 percent from 53,176 in 2016.

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