A lot has been made the past couple of days about how the Seahawks limited ticket sales to certain states and Canadian provinces. The story being told in some parts is that the Seahawks limited sales to people with billing addresses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta—for the most part places where Seahawks fans live, though you could argue that Hawaii’s a bit of a stretch.
Most notably not on that list, of course, is California, home of this weekend’s opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. Yet even if we leave out the fact that this policy was in place before the 49ers beat Carolina to advance to the NFC championship game, a rather significant detail, there is a good explanation for this that has nothing to do with being “scared” of 49ers fans buying tickets. Somehow this became a big story, even though it’s nothing new in the sports world, and in fact the Broncos did the same thing for the AFC championship game.
And before we get into why the Seahawks were actually restricting ticket sales, would it even be a bad thing if they did this just to make sure they have the best home-field advantage possible? I don’t think so, and I would defend the 49ers or any other team for doing the same thing. You know who else isn’t bothered by Seattle’s ticket policy? 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who when asked about it on Monday told reporters, “It’s within the spirit of the rules in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “I actually respect it, that you’re doing it for your team and to put them in the best possible position to win that you can. I respect that the organization does that for their team. I think they do that in a lot of ways. What do I think of it? I respect it.”
Seattle earned home-field advantage with its body of work this season, why not maximize that advantage, or as Harbaugh put it, “put them in the best possible position” to advance to the Super Bowl? Yet that’s not even the main reason for this policy.
Because the Seahawks have a rather healthy season ticket base, very few tickets were available to the public, fewer than 3,000. So no matter how tickets were or weren’t restricted, they were going to go fast. But two weeks ago, what the Seahawks discovered was that the bulk of the tickets they put on sale for their game against New Orleans were snatched up by ticket brokers, particularly those located in New York, New Jersey, Nevada and, you guessed it, California.
The National Association of Ticket Brokers lists just three members in all the states/provinces that were allowed to purchase Seahawks tickets, all of which were in B.C.
Those states the Seahawks were trying to avoid? California has 31 NATB members, New York and New Jersey claim 10 each, and Nevada has six. Now obviously there are ticket brokers all over the country who aren’t NATB members, but that list helps give you an idea of the prevalence of brokers in California.
There is a ton of demand for Seahawks tickets, and the team would just as soon have its fans get them than a ticket broker who is going to turn around and sell them to their fans for a healthy profit.
So no, the Seahawks weren’t worried about 49ers fans snatching up a few hundred tickets; they were just trying to ensure that as many tickets as possible went to fans at face value.
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