Monday, May 19
May 19, 1:21 PM ET
Spurs' request leaves Mavs fans out in cold
By Darren Rovell
If an intra-state rivalry isn't enough to create added motivation in the Western Conference finals, maybe a brouhaha over a ticket policy will.
Dallas Mavericks fans who tried to buy tickets online to the first two games of the series in San Antonio have been frustrated in recent days when the orders were canceled because their credit card billing address did not come from areas apparently specified by the San Antonio Spurs.
A notice on Ticketmaster's Web site states that sales to games at the SBC Center "will be restricted to residents of San Antonio, Austin and south of San Antonio areas." Dallas is located nearly 200 miles north of Austin and 275 miles north of San Antonio.
"It probably adds to (the rivalry)," said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who received about 20 e-mails from fans who wanted to purchase tickets to the game. "We have a lot of upset Mavs fans who have friends in San Antonio who would have loved to go to the game, actually got online and bought tickets and had the purchases canceled."
Ticketmaster spokesperson Kandus Simpson declined to comment on the specifics of the Spurs requests, but did say that "ticket and selling policies are established by the client." Calls placed to San Antonio Spurs spokesman Tom James were not immediately returned.
Cuban said he contacted the NBA about the policy, but league executives said that because the games were sellouts, there was nothing they could do. "They weren't altogether pleased about the policy," Cuban added.
"We're aware that some teams have elected to limit their online sales to their local market to preserve home-court advantage," said Tim Andree, the NBA's senior vice president of communications. "We prefer that they don't that, but there is no league policy or rule that prevent them from doing so."
The Spurs open the Western Conference finals against the Mavericks in San Antonio on Monday night. Game 2 also will be played in San Antonio on Wednesday.
"The Mavs try to accomodate San Antonio fans," Cuban said. "When we did the tribute for David Robinson, we went out of our way to make whatever we could available -- standing room only, whatever we could -- given the game had been sold out for a long while. To exclude our fans from games in San Antonio is just plain wrong and sends the wrong message."
Jbeau Lewis, a student at University of Texas Southwestern medical school in Dallas, said he tried to purchase two tickets with his credit card. After he approved his seats, his credit card was rejected. He managed to borrow a credit card of a friend who lives in Austin and purchased two "nosebleed" seats to Game 1 for $85.
"I think it's incredibly absurd, considering that when the Spurs came to Dallas this year, the crowd was peppered with a good number of Spurs fans," Lewis said. "Mavericks fans should be able to reciprocate that in San Antonio."
When the Mavericks played the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals two years ago, Cuban said he bought about 500 tickets to reserve for Mavs fans.
"The only unfortunate message it sends it that they are more concerned about the other team's fans than they are (about their) business partners," Cuban said.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.