Updated Nov 17, 2022 - Sports

D.C. attorney general sues Washington Commanders for allegedly cheating ticket holders

A Washington Commanders fan celebrates during the second half of the game against the Minnesota Vikings.

A Washington Commanders fan celebrates against the Minnesota Vikings. Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced a new civil lawsuit Thursday against the Washington Commanders, alleging the football team used an illegal scheme to trick D.C. ticket holders out of their season ticket deposits and used the money for their own purposes.

Why it matters: The lawsuit over the alleged ticket-cheating scheme lawsuit comes a week after Racine filed another suit against the team, its embattled owner Dan Snyder and the NFL for allegedly deceiving D.C. residents about the league’s investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct.

  • The team through the deposit scheme allegedly "withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars from District residents,” the lawsuit says.

Driving the news: The new lawsuit alleges that the Commanders deceived ticket holders over their security deposits, and when fans asked for them returned, would oftentimes impose “extra, burdensome conditions” that were not previously established in the contracts, per the lawsuit.

  • Those alleged conditions included the team adding a requirement that ticket holders would need to submit a signed request to receive their deposits back, which was not in the original contract, according to the lawsuit.
  • “The Commanders’ arrogance and blatant disregard for the law is a slap in the face to District residents who have supported the team for decades," Racine said in a statement emailed to Axios. "We deserve better, and today my office is taking action yet again to hold them accountable."

Details: According to the lawsuit, the Commanders would sell premium seating to fans, and some of the seats required a security deposit. The team would tell ticket holders that they would get the deposits back within 30 days of their contracts ending, the lawsuit says.

  • But, according to the lawsuit, “the team held on to these funds — sometimes for over a decade — and used the money for its own purposes" by converting some deposits into revenue.

Zoom in: In 2009, a team employee allegedly told corporate officers that they were violating the terms of the contract with ticket holders, but the team continued to impose the new conditions, according to the lawsuit.

  • In 2014, the team told certain customers that they were still holding onto the security deposits and explained how to request funds to be returned, but many of the accounts were inactive. A few dozen consumers received their deposits back.
  • As of March 2022, the Commanders still held about $200,000 in unreturned security deposits, the lawsuit says.

What they're saying: A spokesperson for the Commanders told Axios that the team hasn't accepted security deposits for more than 20 years for premium tickets or 10 years for suites.

  • The spokesperson confirmed the team was told in 2014 to send notices to more than 1,400 customers with deposits and return deposits to those who requested them.
  • The Commanders also worked with an outside law firm and auditors to review the team's account, "which found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits to revenue," the spokesperson said.

More from Axios:

D.C. attorney general sues Washington Commanders, team owner and NFL

Dan Snyder hires bank to explore selling Washington Commanders

This story is developing and will be updated.

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