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Concert Fans Scream At Live Nation’s Fees For Phantom Parking Spaces

Posted  March 18, 2011

Concert fans claim they are being cheated by Live Nation’s practice of charging fans without cars fees for parking spaces that don’t exist.

In the latest challenge, Chicago concertgoer James Batson has filed, on behalf of himself and event attendees nationwide, a class action antitrust complaint against Live Nation, the alleged “largest live entertainment company in the world.”  Batson accuses Live Nation of illegally imposing on event goers mandatory parking fees that they “did not need, use, want, or voluntarily contract for.”

Batson v. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. et al., No. 11-cv-01226, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, names as defendants Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., Live Nation Worldwide, Inc., and Live Nation Chicago, Inc.

Live Nation’s business includes concert promotion, venue operations, and management of such artists as Madonna, U2, the Rolling Stones and Jay-Z.  Live Nation is now also the leading direct seller of tickets to events, thanks to its heavily publicized (and heavily challenged) 2010 merger with Ticketmaster.

According to Batson, Live Nation incorporates into the price of each venue ticket a mandatory parking fee ($9 in his case).  Fans are therefore required to pay for parking in order to gain admission to the venue, whether or not they need, want or use the parking.  According to Batson, the fee is thus nothing but “a contrivance for Defendants to arbitrarily inflate ticket prices.”

Batson claims that Live Nation adds insult to injury by failing to give ticket buyers what they pay for.  Even if they want to use the parking spaces they purchase, they may not be able to:  The garage at Live Nation’s Charter One Pavilion in Chicago, for example, has only 2,500 parking spaces for its 8,000 potential patrons.  The parking fee also fails to provide any benefits to fans such as alleviating traffic or expediting entry to the venue.

Batson asserts two causes of action regarding the fees.  First, that they illegally restrain trade and tie parking to concert tickets, in violation of the federal antitrust laws.  Second, they are an unfair, unlawful, and unconscionable commercial practice in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law.

A similar case, Katz v. Live Nation, Inc., is pending in the federal court for the District of New Jersey (No. 09-cv-3740-MLC-DEA).  In June 2010, Judge Mary L. Cooper denied Live Nation’s motion to dismiss that case for failure to state a claim, finding that allegations like Batson’s “indicate a capacity to mislead consumers and evince a lack of fair dealing.”  That case currently is in discovery.

Tagged in: Antitrust Litigation,