49ers’ fan sues NFL for $50 million over playoff tickets



John E. Williams III has been a die hard San Francisco 49ers fan since legendary QB John Brodie was with the team in the 1970s. So when the 49ers reached the NFC Championship Game against the Seattle Seahawks in January, he was more than ready to pounce on the opportunity to purchase playoff tickets. However, that opportunity never came as the Las Vegas local said the NFL took part in “economic discrimination” due to an illegal ticket policy limiting credit-card sales to selected pro-Seattle markets.

His lawsuit which was filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, believes the “economic discrimination” stemmed from his inability to purchase tickets due to being a 49ers fan living in the Las Vegas area. If you remember, the Seahawks limited ticket sales to only those that reside or have a billing address in specific states including Oregon, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Alaska or Hawaii, and Canada.

Williams III said he suffered “economic discrimination and violation of public accommodation solely” because his credit card was not issued in the restrictive states or Canada, “which is not even part of the United States.”They’re always boasting up there about their 12th player and everything else,” Williams told The Associated Press on Friday. “But by allowing the NFL to decide who can or cannot attend the games, you make it an unfair game. Seattle fixed it.”

Williams, who works as a promoter in the entertainment industry, said due to the NFL relying heavily on public subsidies and money from taxpayers to build stadiums it should not be allowed to deny ticket sales to individuals on the basis they are “not from an area determined by the team  or the NFL to be fan of that team. The practice of withholding the sale of tickets from the public at large and allowing only credit card holders limited to certain areas is a violation of the Federal Consumer Fraud Act and/or common law,” according to the lawsuit filed April 15.

I live in Las Vegas, but I’m originally from San Francisco. I’ve seen John Brodie back in the day, and QB Joe Montana. I really wanted to go up there to see the Niners,” Williams said. “I think the tickets should be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, not based on who they want in the crowd.”

As to how much the Las Vegas man is suing for, how does $50 million sound? That’s right, $10 million in punitive damages and $40 million in real damages. If Williams III gets even small fraction of that, the Seahawks have to ask themselves was it really worth it?

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of NinerFans.com, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at ryan@NinerFans.com or call him at (408) 622-0996.