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Show producers sue Convention Center District Authority claiming anticompetitive practices

Show producers contend in their lawsuit that the Convention Center District Authority and AEG Management PR LLC put unfair clauses in contracts that minimize the opportunities for competition in the ticketing market.

The Puerto Rico Association of Producers of Public Shows (CoPEP), 22 producers, and four ticketing companies sued the Convention Center District Authority and AEG Management PR LLC on Tuesday for what they claim are anticompetitive practices that negatively impact sales of local productions.

The producers contend that the Convention Center District Authority and AEG put unfair clauses in contracts that minimize the opportunities for competition in the ticketing market. As a result, they filed a suit seeking a declaratory judgment.

The list of plaintiffs includes producers Rafael “Rafo” Muñiz García de la Noceda, Josantonio Mellado González, Antonio “Tony” Mojena Zapico, Antonio Muñíz García de la Noceda, Oro Entertainment, Edwin Vázquez Ortega, César Sainz Rodríguez, Rosalis Torres Flores, Omar Moreno Taylor, Ender Vega Correa, Nelson Castro Morales, Josantonio Mellado Romero, Yolanda Díaz Sanabria, Rolando Santa Báez, Peter Cruz Pizarro and Michelle Negrón, Ticket Center, Ticket Plus, Fastender and Buy a Tix vending company.

They argued that the Convention Center and AEG are hindering competition in the ticket sales method by preventing the show promoter from selecting the ticket sales method, including, but not limited to, ticketing companies. They said they want to put a stop to the practice of forcing producers to use the vending company chosen by the “venue.”

AEG, through an administration and maintenance contract with the Convention Center District Authority, grants exclusivity in ticket vending to Ticketera.

“This practice confiscates the ability of producers to use their own [ticket] vending company, to negotiate with any other of the over 13 companies registered in the Treasury Department, and to select the one that best represents their interests for ticket sales,” CoPEP President Roberto Sueiro said. “Among the ticket sales charges are consumer service charges.”

Ticketera has exclusivity in ticket sales with the three most essential venues in the metropolitan area -- José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, the Convention Center and Coca Cola Music Hall, all three state companies -- through a contract that has created supremacy in the sale of tickets for events whose capacity ranges from between 2,000 to 15,000 seats. The three facilities are more modern and suitable for large events, and therefore, show promoters with significant events must use the services of Ticketera, the plaintiffs noted.

According to Act 182, the plaintiffs understand that once the Treasury issues its endorsement and the producer chooses the vending company, the state public facility managed by AEG is bound to abide by the producer’s choice. The producers have no say on fees imposed as part of the ticket price.

“We have been calling attention to this issue for years, to the administrators of the facilities and the vending companies, because we have seen how the charges for services to the consumers by these vending companies that, by having an exclusive contract, establish the price unilaterally. That is, the producer has no say or vote on this price,” CoPEP Executive Director Juan Carlos Zapata said. “In addition, we see other charges or taxes, such as the ‘Facility fee,’ ’Order fee,’ and the ‘Internet’ fee on the ticket fee. This is an unprecedented practice. The producer does not authorize these charges or taxes.”

Zapata said the additional charges included in the ticket sales impact the decision of families to attend an event as they hike up prices.

“We are receiving more and more calls from the public about this issue,” he added.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority is a public corporation created under Law 142 of 2001 that manages important infrastructure works of the government and establishments created for the entertainment industry. The Convention District Authority contracted with AEG for the administration and maintenance of the facilities of the Convention Center, José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, Coca-Cola Music Hall and the Old Casino, among other sites.

“Since its creation, the Convention District Authority or the entities contracted to manage their facilities have granted exclusivity to ticket vending companies, forcing promoters to engage in compulsory hiring to produce events in all district-run entertainment venues,” the lawsuit reads.

“According to Act 113 of 2005, the promoter of a show is the only person or entity empowered to choose your ticket vendor,” the suit notes.

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