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Sports

September 19, 2012

EXTRA INNINGS: Buying a ticket is like signing a contract nobody reads

OPINION — BUYING A TICKET to a professional baseball game may seem like a rather mundane endeavor. But have you ever read the fine print on the back of the ticket?

Of course not.

By the time you would squint through the 50 lines of print, you’d have missed the seventh inning stretch.

But by purchasing a ticket, you agree to details that you probably break while agreeing to forfeit your ticket for such sins. Under the “IMPORTANT: ” section, you affirm that you understand that the ticket “constitutes a revocable license” to enter the ballpark and watch the game. You also agree not to “transmit or aid in transmitting any description, account, picture or reproduction of the baseball game (including pre- and post-game activities). Take a picture of your school’s band playing the national anthem? Pose for a photo with the Pirate Parrot? Try to capture post-game fireworks? Snap a picture of your favorite player during an at-bat or use your phone to video an on-field argument? Photograph the name of your group on the scoreboard or PNC Park for your phone’s wallpaper?

So why is an employee shown on the scoreboard, urging fans to take cell phone photos and send them so they might appear on the video board in the sixth inning.

Oh, the list could go on and on.

The penalty for such infractions: “Breach of the foregoing will automatically terminate this contract,” the ticket states. Translation: You get tossed out of the park.

Buying a ticket also means granting permission to the “Participating Clubs and their agents to utilize the holder’s image or likeness incidental to any live or recorded video display or other transmission or reproduction in whole or in part of the event to which this admits him.” In other words, you get no royalties if you’re in the background of a shot of Andrew McCutchen in the batter’s box.

It’s also a violation if you donate your purchased ticket for a charity raffle, if you give it to a customer in exchange for buying a product or service, if you use it for a promotion such as a contest or sweepstakes, or if you use it “for other trade purposes without the express written consent of the Pittsburgh Pirates.”

Or maybe the seat has been double sold, or they just don’t want you there for whatever reason; you lose. And by buying ticket you agree to leave if they give you your money back. “The license granted by this ticket may also be terminated by tendering to the holder the purchase price of this ticket” is the way they put it on the back of the ticket.

A cynic might point out that that’s a good thing considering how the Pirates have been playing lately.

In addition, under the “WARNING:” paragraph comes a caveat for those who may have bought their ticket from an on-line reselling site, a scalper, or any source other than the Pittsburgh Pirates or Tickets.com that those tickets may have been lost or stolen tickets which “in all cases will not be honored and admission will be denied.”

Further, you agree to assume “all risk and danger incidental to the event, whether occurring prior to, during, or subsequent to the event, including the danger of being injured by thrown or broken bats, thrown or batted balls and objects thrown into the stands for entertainment purposes.” In other words, get bruised from a hot dog shot into the stands by the Parrot—you’re on your own because your ticket also serves as a contract that you agree that noone associated with the club or major league baseball will be held liable for injuries resulting from such causes.

Finally, the ticket states “No bottles, cans, or alcoholic beverages [are] permitted in the park.”

And then they send vendors through the stands selling $8 beers in cans and bottles.

All this sound like too much stress? Tough luck—“NO REFUNDS AND NO EXCHANGES.”

Jim Sankey is a baseball columnist for Allied News.

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