The Home Depot Center has become a hub (pardon that pun – you will see why) for soccer in the US. It’s the only stadium that hosts two professional teams. It holds countless camps for US Soccer teams of all ages. It is a staple in our community.
What happens when a pillar in the community takes on a partner that may not be in the best interest of the community at large?
Starting on June 19th, The Home Depot Center will change to The Stub Hub Center. The ten year deal that was in place since the HDC opened is coming to an end, and it will be renamed Stub Hub Center on June 19th.
Now if you are not familiar, Stub Hub is basically a ticket broker. They sell tickets and let others sell tickets on the site. Not such a huge deal, except for the fact that there are plenty of times when the only way to buy legitimate tickets is to go through a service like theirs because brokers have secured a vast amount of tickets that were made available to the public. This making it necessary to go through them or other ticket brokers to get a ticket. Often times at a premium to what the actual retail price of the tickets is. I know I have come across this numerous times when trying to get tickets to a concert. Tickets may be $50 or so through the venue, but they are always gone to ticket brokers and the like. Then those same tickets surface for much more than what the original price was, squeezing out real fans.
Some folks will go on about this much more than I will (see Bob Lefsetz). But the question here is…is it a good idea to have a ticket broker be the title sponsor and own the naming rights to a venue that is in the business of selling tickets? Is there a conflict of interest in there somewhere? Does Stub Hub get to sell tickets to the newly named Stub Hub Center at inflated prices because they are able to get their hands on more and more tickets? Is this a good move for consumers and real fans?
I’m sure the LA Galaxy got a truckload of money for this, and that certainly helps the team. But does it help in the short term or is there a long term play here that is good for the team, good for the league and good for the sport?
There are certainly interesting sponsorship deals across all of sports (and entertainment), but this one may trump interesting and end up on the wrong side of fans and consumers. I’ll be cool and supportive in the interim, but if stories start emerging that tickets are being scooped up by StubHub and auctioned off at inflated prices…that’s a whole nother story. I want to see the league, the sport and each and every team win. On and off the field. But just as importantly we need to make sure the fans are supported as much as we support. This has to be a two way street where everyone wins.