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NY Yankees ban printed-at-home tickets

Baseball tickets printed at home? Yerrrrrrrrrr out!

The New York Yankees are throwing high and hard at ticket resellers with a new policy this season that bars people from using tickets printed from PDF files. The policy instead will require attendees to use tickets that come from the box office or Ticketmaster, or those that can be scanned from a smartphone when they enter the stadium.

The policy will make it much harder for Bronx Bombers fans to get last-minute tickets for below face value, which they have been able to do by buying from resellers like StubHub, which emails PDF versions of tickets that can be printed at home.

Without the printed-PDF option, fans using StubHub and other unauthorized resellers would have to have the tickets mailed to them or picked up in person.

The Yankees authorized partner for reselling tickets, Ticket Exchange, doesn't sell tickets for less than face value — and is the only reseller that sends mobile versions of the tickets to smartphones.

A StubHub spokesman said that the Yankees have created a system that only allows electronic transfers of tickets purchased through its authorized seller, Ticketmaster. But a Yankees spokeswoman said, "If StubHub wanted to do it, they could make mobile tickets available to their customers in New York. [The] Yankees would be fine with that."

Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees
Getty Images
Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees

Some Yankees fans have reacted with dismay to the new policy.

"They're making it harder for you to get a ticket and making you spend more money," Yankees fan Lisa Swan told the New York Post, which reported on the policy Wednesday night.

"It's taking a lot of flexibility away from what people like to do," said Swan, who operates the fan blog Subway Squawkers.

The Yankees' squeeze play on unauthorized resellers also could lead to attention from the New York Attorney General's office, which reportedly is already investigating the National Football League for possible antitrust violations" connected to its Ticket Exchange reselling partnership with Ticketmaster. Bloomberg Business reported last month that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's probe was focused on the practice of setting a price floor for ticket resales.

Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion, when contacted by CNBC, said the team's policy was being implemented to fight the problem of counterfeit tickets being sold via PDF files.

"Mobile is the most convenient, accessible, efficient and safe way to provide tickets," McGillion said. "Yankees fans are extremely happy, this is what they wanted. The only unhappy people are the ticket brokers and the ticket speculators."

McGillion said the Yankees have not been contacted by Schneiderman's office about the new policy.

In a statement, StubHub said it "believes that the best customer experience is one on a free and open marketplace where fans can buy and sell tickets whenever and wherever they want."

The company also noted that Yankees fans will still be able to purchase tickets on StubHub until game time, but would now have to pick up their tickets before the game at StubHub's ticket office, which is a 10-minute walk from Yankee Stadium.

A spokesman for Schneiderman declined to comment.

A report last month by Schneiderman's office about ticket reselling noted his concern about policies that set "price floors for tickets," and can lead to restraint of free trade. The report specifically referred to the Yankees, noting that the team and the NFL "have put in place 'price floors,'" which are "designed to prevent tickets from being sold below some level."

The report noted that the AG's office is involved "in an ongoing multistate investigation" of practices that "impeded consumer access to alternative ticket resale platforms."