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August 1, 2014

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Spurned in attempt to buy NFC Championship tickets, Las Vegan sues NFL, Seahawks

Image

Associated Press

Seattle Seahawks’ Heath Farwell leads his team onto the field during the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 7:30 p.m.

A Las Vegas football fan has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages because he couldn’t buy tickets to the NFC Championship game in Seattle due to a residency restriction.

But John Williams III, who makes a living working odd jobs at hotel conventions, says he’s not doing it for money. He just wants to make a stand against the National Football League, Ticketmaster, the Seattle Seahawks and others for committing what he calls an “unconstitutional” sale of tickets to this year's NFC Championship game, which was limited to people with credit card billing addresses in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

Describing himself as “a taxpayer, resident of the State of Nevada, and an avid football fan” in the April 15 complaint, Williams argued that because CenturyLink Field, home to the Seahawks, was partly funded with public money and because the nonprofit NFL is exempt from federal income taxes, the sale of tickets to the Jan. 19 game should have been open to everyone.

The Seahawks set the policy to ensure its home-field advantage in the championship game against their West Coast rival, the San Francisco 49ers. Ticketmaster was named in Williams' lawsuit for adhering to the directive from the Seahawks.

“We’re in a state that doesn’t have a professional (team),” said Williams, a 49ers fan. “Tickets should go on sale on a first-come, first-served basis. Not who they want in the crowd.”

The complaint calls for the NFL to establish a uniform policy for ticket sales to all of its games.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment regarding the suit.

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