The Los Angeles Rams will have to offer some former St. Louis personal seat license holders the opportunity to buy season tickets in their new L.A. stadium, as well as refund the deposit for other former personal seat license holders, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
When the Rams left for L.A., they were sued by three different groups. Two argued that their PSLs were still valid despite the relocation and therefore they had the right to buy season tickets in L.A., while the other group argued that by relocating the Rams terminated their contract with PSL holders, who were therefore entitled to a refund.
In effect, the Rams didn’t want PSLs to transfer to Los Angeles—so that they would be free to charge Angelenos exorbitant sums for new PSLs—but also didn’t want to have to refund deposits for PSLs that were no longer valid. While the judge did rule partially in the Rams’ favor, they broadly lost the lawsuits, which will likely cost the team millions of dollars in returned deposits and foregone profit.
The definition of “transferred games” was key to the first two suits, which argued that PSL holders should be entitled to buy season tickets in L.A. The PSL contracts stated that they are valid for “transferred games,” which the Rams interpreted to mean games that were temporarily relocated (because of a natural disaster or stadium retrofitting, for instance) and the plaintiffs interpreted to mean any Rams home game, played anywhere.
Here, the judge ruled for the plaintiffs in part and for the Rams in part. Some PSLs were sold by the ticketing agency FANS, Inc., and include the condition that, “NFL Football is played at the Stadium by the RAMS.” The judge ruled that relocating to L.A. means NFL football is no longer played at the St. Louis stadium, and therefore those contracts are terminated. But other PSLs were sold directly by the Rams and include no such condition, and thus the judge ruled that the contract stipulates that the Rams must use their “best efforts” to allow PSL holders to purchase season tickets at their new stadium.
Unlike the first two lawsuits, the third simply sought refunds for PSLs that most holders, by virtue of living near St. Louis and not L.A., could no longer use. The contracts for both the FANS Inc. and Rams-sold PSLs include language mandating a full or partial refund if the PSL agreement is terminated. The Rams argued that relocation shouldn’t technically count as a termination of the agreement. But the judge ruled that the contracts include no language about manner of termination and “the right to terminate and a refund of deposits go hand-in-hand,” thus the Rams must refund those PSL holders.
The three cases aren’t fully resolved. All three proposed to bring their cases on behalf of all PSL holders, a group of at least 40,000 people, and the remedy for each holder will depend upon whether their contract was with FANS Inc. or the Rams, and whether they desire a refund or the opportunity to buy season tickets in Los Angeles. The judge also declined to rule on the dollar amounts the Rams have to refund, reasoning that he was only ruling on liability, not damages.
With each PSL costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars—the plaintiff in the third case alleged he paid $1,000 for each of his PSLs—a refund will likely cost millions of dollars. Perhaps even worse for the Rams, for each PSL holder who chooses to transfer their PSL to L.A. and buy season tickets, that is one fewer new PSL they can sell. Considering the 49ers recently sold PSLs for between $2,000 and $80,000 for their new stadium, and that Los Angeles is an even bigger, richer, and more football-starved area, it is possible that the Rams will be forced to forego millions more in profit.
You can read the full ruling below, or here.