Some of the most exciting news a professional sports team fanbase can hear is that their team is getting a new stadium. The excitement of a new stadium is something that not every fanbase gets to experience. The new stadium comes with new and improved amenities, new fan experience opportunities, and a possible newfound hope for their favorite team.
While the hype of a new stadium is filled with excitement, the fans are sometimes left facing costs and fees that they may not have anticipated. As many know, the costs of building a new stadium or arena are astronomical. Many stadiums and arenas nowadays cost billions of dollars. Climate Pledge Arena, home of the Seattle Kraken, cost roughly $1.15 billion dollars to construct.
The cost of such an arena can come at a price to the fans. This past week, a concert goer filed a class action lawsuit against the majority owner and operator of Climate Pledge Arena, Oak View Group LLC. The lawsuit claimed that the arena was charging a hidden 3% service fee within their concessions. The concert goer, Michael Meholic, alleges that when the arena was selling food, beverages, and other concessions to patrons, the arena was charging a 3% fee that they were not disclosing. However, this fee was only charged at non-Kraken events, Meholic alleges.
Meholic attended a concert at Climate Pledge Arena on April 16, 2023, where he bought concessions including craft beer, cocktails and pizza from multiple vendors. However, none of the vendors disclosed or notified him that there was this 3% fee. The vendors did not have any signage or verbally tell him of the fee. Additionally, after he made the purchases, he was not given a receipt, nor was he offered one. Furthermore, Climate Pledge Arena does not allow fans to use cash at their concessions.
Meholic claims that the use of cashless payments and lack of receipts provided to customers allowed for Oak View to profit from the hidden service fee. Additionally, he said that “the 3% fee was not included in the displayed price for items to be purchased, and Oak View also failed to inform patrons that an additional 3% would be added to the displayed prices.” These bogus hidden fees are referred to as junk fees. The Federal Trade Commission is currently working on banning these fees. Junk fees can cost consumers tens of billions of dollars per year.
The patrons are paying more than what they are expecting to pay and they aren’t even aware that they are. This is what happens when ownership groups are left with a hefty bill and have to find ways to pay for the new stadium/arena. Meholic has even gone as far to say that the Oak View group has taken steps to make sure that customers are unaware of this charge. Meholic claims that this has affected thousands of patrons. Meholic is seeking “an order awarding himself and class members monetary relief that would include actual damages and treble damages for each member, not to exceed $25,000 per member.”
The construction of new stadiums and arenas drive the price of the fan experience through the roof. Ticket prices increase exponentially, as well the costs of concessions. A recent study found that “38.3% of fans believe that the prices for concessions are simply too high and would enjoy the game much more if the prices were made more reasonable.” At some NFL venues, the cost of one hotdog can cost $8.00.
No matter how exciting a new stadium/arena may be, and no matter how many features it includes, someone is always left to foot the bill. And in the case of the Seattle Kraken, like many teams, it seems that fans are the ones stuck covering the extra expense of the new facilities. With the increase in teams getting new stadiums/arenas, all fans ask for is transparency in what they are paying for.