California wants to reform ticket sales for live events.


Billion-dollar sports teams are fighting back


Fans tailgate at Levi's Stadium before an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers in Santa Clara on Jan. 20, 2024. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn, AP Photo
Fans tailgate at Levi’s Stadium before an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers in Santa Clara on Jan. 20, 2024. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn, AP Photo


Since Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2010, ticket sales for live events in California have skyrocketed. A bill seeking to restore competition and finally give fans more choice on the market faces fierce opposition from California’s billion-dollar sports franchises.Email

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Robert Herrell

Robert Herrell is the executive director of the Consumer Federation of California, a nonprofit advocating for consumer rights.

As warmer weather arrives, Californians are thinking about the next live sporting event or outdoor concert with family and friends. But what used to be a straightforward experience of getting tickets has morphed into a complex and costly endeavor, all thanks to the Live Nation and Ticketmaster stranglehold over consumers.

Since the two companies merged in 2010, Live Nation Entertainment has built a monopolistic empire controlling the management of venues for live sports and concerts, and also the process for buying tickets.

The monopoly now controls an estimated 80% of primary ticket sales nationwide, and holds contracts with 78% of the top-grossing arenas. The monopoly is also the dominant player in the secondary, resale market, with upwards of two-thirds of the market share, according to reports.

Who loses because in all this? You, the consumer. Our wallets have been hit hard: Ticket prices have more than doubled since Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged, surging by an alarming 140% even when adjusted for inflation.

The monopoly is finally facing scrutiny from government watchdogs. Last week, the federal Justice Department revealed plans to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment for allegedly undermining competition in the live event ticketing marketplace, thereby violating a prior agreement they signed onto – and, potentially, federal antitrust law.

In California, legislation by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, an Oakland Democrat, aims to inject much-needed competition and choice back into the marketplace. To transform live sports ticketing for the better, her proposal addresses several key areas: Lowering fees, empowering fans, improving their experience and increasing competition.

Assembly Bill 2808 introduces greater transparency and choice into the ticketing process – incentivizing ticket sellers to enhance services, provide clearer pricing structures and reduce fees for consumers. 

    Consumers also deserve control over their tickets. The bill guarantees the right to gift, donate or resell tickets without unnecessary restrictions imposed by ticket sellers. 

    Importantly, the reforms dismantle exclusive contracts stifling competition and limiting choice for fans. For example, sports teams should partner with multiple ticketing platforms to foster a more competitive marketplace – not just Ticketmaster. 

    Learn more about legislators mentioned in this story.

    Buffy Wicks

    Democrat, State Assembly, District 14 (Oakland)

    Of course, the Live Nation monopoly vehemently opposes such reforms, given their vested interest in maintaining control over ticket distribution and pricing. More surprising, however, is opposition from some of California’s biggest professional sports franchises, including the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. 

    They are lobbying to exempt sports from Wicks’ bill. This would be a huge mistake given the presence of professional sports in California and Ticketmaster’s control of more than 80% of NFL, NBA and NHL ticketing.

    There is no justifiable rationale to exempt sports, other than that these teams and their billionaire owners directly benefit from inflated ticket prices – even when it means hurting loyal fans. 

    The Warriors are by far the most valuable team in the NBA, boasting revenue 48% higher than any other NBA franchise, yet most families are unable to attend their games because of oppressive ticket prices and fees. The Rams, a franchise owned by a man worth more than $16 billion, keeps raising season ticket prices. The San Francisco 49ers followed suit, doubling their latest season ticket prices for many longtime fans.

    A monopoly shouldn’t dictate the terms. California needs to act on behalf of millions of fans and reshape live event ticketing to rightly benefit consumers.

    With reform, we can restore fairness, affordability and accessibility to live sports and concerts, allowing more people a chance to attend. Let’s prioritize fans over monopolies and ensure California is leading the way by protecting consumers.