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Puerto Rico event producers sue coliseum manager over control of ticket sales

The Puerto Rico College of Public Event Producers (CoPEP, in Spanish), 22 producers and four ticket selling companies are suing the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority and AEG Management PR, LLC, for what they claim is an “anti-competitive and monopolistic practice” of tying contracts to specific vendors, limiting opportunities for other providers.

Through a declaratory judgment appeal, the plaintiffs are asking the court to require the defendants to comply with the provisions of the law that only authorize show promoters to select the ticket sales method that includes, but is not limited to, ticketing companies, and to stop the practice of forcing producers to use the chosen ticketing company for the given venue.

The plaintiffs list 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-Baez, Peter Cruz-Pizarro, Michelle Negrón, event ticket vendors Ticket Center, Ticket Plus, Fastender and Buy a Tix.

As News is my Business previously reported, in 2019, AEG Management PR, LLC, through an administration and maintenance contract granted by the Convention Center District Authority and owner of the facilities, entered into a three-year agreement for exclusive box office service with local firm Ticketera that was valid through last September.

However, AEG confirmed to News is my Business that the contract was extended through September 2026 due to the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the entertainment industry.

Through the agreement, Ticketera has exclusivity to sell event tickets for the Convention Center District Authority’s properties, the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, the Puerto Rico Convention Center and the Coca-Cola Music Hall at the Distrito T-Mobile in Miramar, whose capacities range from 2,000 to 15,000 seats.

“This practice sequesters the producer’s ability to use their own vending company, to negotiate with any other of the more than 13 companies registered with the Treasury Department and select the one that best represents their interests for ticket sales. Among these ticket sales charges are consumer service charges,” said Roberto Sueiro, president of CoPEP.

“These facilities are more modern and suitable for events; therefore, promoters who have an event for such a capacity are forced to use Ticketera’s services,” the producers stated.

The plaintiffs believe that, according to Act 182, once Treasury issues its endorsement and the producer chooses the vending company, the government-owned public facilities that AEG manages are obliged to abide by the producer’s choice.

“We’ve been calling attention to this issue for years, to the administrators of the facilities and to the vending companies because we have seen how these companies have increased service charges to consumers, which by having an exclusivity contract, unilaterally establish the price,” said Sueiro. “The producer has no say on that price.”

Producers also raised flags about an “unprecedented practice” of imposing other charges or taxes on the ticket such as the “Facility fee,” “Order fee” and “Internet fee.”

“These charges or taxes are not authorized by the producer, they are imposed, and when it comes to a ticket, the consumer, even if unhappy, pays it, because they have no other option, but when it comes to a group or family, the totality of the charges imposed could represent the decision to go or not to the event,” said Juan Carlos Zapata, executive director of CoPEP.

“We’re getting more and more calls from the public regarding this issue,” he said.

Jorge L. Pérez, regional manager of ASM Global, the company that manages the properties of the Puerto Rico Convention District Authority, acknowledged the legal action.

“We’re aware of this legal action by the Association of Producers, which will be before the consideration of the court, and we await the determination of the judicial forum on this matter,” he said.

“We have a relationship of teamwork, friendship and genuine appreciation with all the show producers, with whom we collaborate closely to offer the people of Puerto Rico unique experiences of concerts, healthy recreation and special events,” Pérez said. “We will continue working to serve our customers, visitors and fans with excellence and dedication.”

Zapata said that, according to Act 113 of 2005, the event promoter is the only person or entity authorized to choose their ticket vendor.

“The promoter is not only legally responsible for the creation, hiring and sale of tickets, but is also obligated to adequately report cancellations or changes and refund the money in the event of a suspension,” Zapata said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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