May 7, 2020 - Sports

Sports leagues update refund policies after coronavirus leaves fans in ticket limbo

Photo: G Fiume/Getty Images

With U.S. sports nearly two months into their indefinite hiatus, leagues have finally begun updating their ticket refund policies, directing teams to decide for themselves how they'd like to proceed.

Why it matters: This should give fans struggling financially amidst the pandemic a clearer path towards recouping cash in the short term.

  • By the numbers: With over $1 billion tied up in "postponed" NBA and NHL games alone, there's a lot more money in ticket limbo than you might realize.
"Getting a refund for an event that is postponed until who-knows-when may seem like small potatoes, but for a lot of people without their paycheck, that might be a cart of groceries or a bottle of prescription medicine."
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), via WSJ

The backdrop: Over the first month or so of lockdown, leagues instructed teams to treat missed games as standard postponements (i.e. exchange for credit on a future ticket, or keep the ticket and use it at the rescheduled event).

  • But when two fans from New York sued MLB on April 20 for un-refunded tickets, seeking class-action certification, the situation changed.

The state of play: About a week after that suit was filed, both MLB and MLS changed their policy to the aforementioned team-centered approach.

  • The L.A. Galaxy are fielding refund requests on a case-by-case basis "for games that have been affected but not canceled" or "from season-ticket holders whose financial situation has been adversely affected by the coronavirus."
  • The NFL — whose season isn't scheduled to begin until the fall, and thus has time on its side in a way MLB and MLS don't — released a memo yesterday outlining a universal refund policy that will be available for fans "if a game is cancelled or has to be played in an empty stadium."

The bottom line: As with everything else at the moment, the only thing certain about this updated refund policy is that, at some point, it's likely to change. But if it eases the pain of this crisis for even a few extra people, it's a good place to start.

  • And despite the 2020 NFL schedule being released tonight, the New York Jets said they won't be selling tickets to games for now. Don't be surprised if more teams do the same.

Go deeper: Sports leagues and ticket providers face criticism and lawsuits over ticket refunds

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump says RNC is looking outside of North Carolina for convention site

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in 2018. Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Tuesday night that because of ongoing coronavirus restrictions in North Carolina, the Republican Party will be "forced to seek another state" to host its convention in August.

The big picture: The late-night tweet came after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) told convention organizers earlier Tuesday that Republicans should plan for a "scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings" given the impact of the pandemic.

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Even with early curfews in New York City and Washington, D.C., protesters are still out en masse. Some protesters in D.C. said they were galvanized by President Trump's photo op in front of St. John's Church on Monday and threat to deploy U.S. troops in the rest of country if violence isn't quelled, NBC News reports.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump backs off push to federalize forces against riots

Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

A day after threatening to federalize forces to snuff out riots across the country, the president appears to be backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Aides say he hasn’t ruled out its use at some point, but that he's “pleased” with the way protests were handled last night (apart from in New York City, as he indicated on Twitter today) — and that for now he's satisfied with leaving the crackdown to states through local law enforcement and the National Guard.