Cowboys to opt out of NFL's deal with Ticketmaster, pair with SeatGeek instead

The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to a deal that would opt them out of the league's ticketing deal with Ticketmaster and instead have ticket reseller SeatGeek serve as the team's primary box office, sources told ESPN.

The Cowboys will receive a 15 percent equity stake of SeatGeek, sources said.

Representatives for the Cowboys and SeatGeek both declined comment.

The Cowboys wouldn't be the first team to opt out of the Ticketmaster deal. The Detroit Lions were, switching their primary ticketing to Veritix for the 2013 season.

In November, the Saints made the move to SeatGeek. Sources say the Lions are moving back to Ticketmaster for 2018, meaning the Cowboys and the Saints will be the only NFL teams not running their box office through Ticketmaster.

The move is consistent with the maverick that Jerry Jones has become. In 1995, Jones famously struck deals with Pepsi and American Express to sponsor the Cowboys while the league had official deals with Coca-Cola and Visa. The NFL sued Jones before eventually acquiescing. In 2002, Jones became only the owner to opt out of the NFL's licensing deal, which split revenues equally. Jones felt that the Cowboys contributed a disproportionate share and sought to be rewarded by going on his own to distribute and choose where he wanted the Cowboys gear to be sold. Sixteen years later, the Cowboys are still the only team that does that.

The deal with SeatGeek isn't an automatic business touchdown. The company is just starting to ramp up its primary business after spending much of its life as a reseller and the deal comes less than two months before the NFL schedule is released.

The Cowboys, despite having the most seats in the NFL in 100,000-seat AT&T Stadium, are handled more easily because the team sells more season tickets than any other team. That being said, fans will have to get used to a different system than they were accustomed to for the managing of their tickets.

Jones' move was long in the works and has nothing to do with Monday's news that the NFL will order Jones to pay more than $2 million in legal fees for his battle against commissioner Roger Goodell over the renewal of Goodell's contract. Jones will appeal the decision, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Interestingly, Jones is partners with LiveNation, which owns Ticketmaster, in a venture with the New York Yankees on its Legends hospitality business.

Ticket businesses have been among the most volatile businesses around. ScoreBig went out of business in 2016 and RazorGator is reportedly in jeopardy.

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