Home Opener 2014: The Legal Nature of the Game Ticket


Home Opener 2014: The Legal Nature of the Game Ticket | The Ondrejech Law Firm, LLC

It’s opening day in Cleveland! Today, the boys of summer return home on this dreary April 4, 2014. Thousands will “play hooky” and head down to the corner of Ontario and E. Ninth to ring in what appears to be a promising season.

There will be plenty of pre-game revelry. I have attended several home openers over the years and discovered that much of the crowd is inebriated by the opening pitch. Many act obnoxiously, and the most obnoxious are escorted from the ballpark and removed from the stadium. This begs the question: How is it that stadium officials can remove a fan from the game site on the basis of obnoxious conduct?

Many believe that by purchasing a ticket to the game, they have obtained carte blanche to act in any manner they choose so long as they do not violate criminal law.[i] This seems reasonable. After all, possession of the ticket is evidence that the fan has paid the team for the right to enter the stadium and watch the game from the ticket holder’s designated seat until the game’s conclusion, right? That is only part of the story.

Legally, the purchase of permission to do something from another party is termed a “license.” When a fan purchases a ticket to a baseball game, they have purchased a license to attend a particular game and to view it from a specific seat. That is the part that the obnoxious revelers understand. They forget that such a license is not absolute.

In print on the back of the ticket (or somewhere on the electronic ticket), there is language that reserves the right of the authorities at the stadium to remove people who engage in certain types of behavior. Such language makes the license conditional rather than absolute. Accordingly, stadium security personnel may, indeed, remove fans who violate the conditions of the conditional license (in this case, the ticket) from the stadium.

This is a manifestation of the team’s desire to create a satisfying environment for all attendees. It is an attempt to strike a balance between allowing fans to go to the game and cheer for the team while, at the same time, preventing the conduct of more boisterous revelers from interfering with those around them.

So, if you’ve been enjoying some beverages at the beverage-dispensing establishments downtown before the game, remember to take it down a notch once you get to the stadium… that is, if you want to remain there for the whole game. Now, let’s get to the game!

Mark O.

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