A TechCrunch article: So, Recode reported today that Twitter was tinkering around with the idea of expanding its 140 character limit to a number a bit higher….10,000 characters. But what,...
Courtesy of the TheNewsStar:
A lawsuit filed by the ULM Athletic Foundation alleges that the university is owed $500,000 by a third-party ticketing firm.
The civil suit, which represents one side of a legal argument, claims the Aspire Group, who handled all ticket sales and services at ULM from 2013-15, violated the terms of its contract with the ULM Athletic Foundation by refusing to pay the foundation $250,000 in 2013-14 and 2014-15 from increased ticket sales guaranteed in the agreement.
Aspire was unable to meet the projected sales figures agreed upon in the contract in both of those years, leading the company to terminate its contract with the foundation at the end of the 2014-15 athletic year.
The ULM Athletic Foundation is seeking the full $500,000 along with “other special and general damages and reasonable attorney fees.” The foundation handles all ticketing responsibilities for ULM through the affiliation agreement between both parties.
The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 23, 2015 in the Fourth Judicial District Court. The case was assigned to Judge Alvin R. Sharp and a hearing date has not been set.
“We feel the suit is certainly merit-based and was filed only after every administrative remedy was exhausted,” said Mark Neal, legal counsel for the ULM Athletic Foundation.
“The contract, which Aspire drafted, required the parties to attempt to mediate all disputes pre-suit. We attended a mediation but it was fruitless, forcing the foundation to file suit as a last resort,” he said.
ULM deferred all comment on the lawsuit to athletic director Brian Wickstrom, who declined to speak on the matter. Aspire also declined to comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Aspire refused to pay the ULM Athletic Foundation the $500,000 total from 2013-15 because it felt the university presented “fraudulently inflated” ticket sales from the 2012-13 athletic year, but no effort was made by Aspire to independently verify the figures before signing the contract.
The ticket revenue from 2012-13 was given to Aspire by ULM and used as the basis for the agreement between the two parties.
Per the service agreement in the contract, Aspire was required to produce ticket sales of no less than $980,994, which amounted to a $250,000 increase based on ticket revenue from 2012-13. ULM reported a profit of $730,944 off ticket sales that year.
“At the end of the day, it’s clear this contractual undertaking on Aspire’s part was not profitable. Sadly, they fail to acknowledge this or to live up to their end of the agreement,” Neal said.
In emails obtained by the News-Star as part of the lawsuit, Aspire chairman and CEO Bernard J. Mullin told Wickstrom on July 11, 2013 at 2:26 p.m. “that is our intent, ULM Foundation will receive $250,000 net more ticket revenue than last year. I believe that is what the agreement says. How would they like to change the wording to give them the comfort they need.”
Mullin and Wickstrom exchanged emails throughout July 11 to clarify the language of the contract and the $250,000 net increase in ticket revenue Aspire promised to deliver.
“It’s really semantics as long as everyone understands that our commitment to UL-M is to deliver $250K more in net ticketing revenue above the 2012-13 season,” Mullin wrote to Wickstrom at 2:57 p.m. on July 11.
Wickstrom forwarded the contract to ULM Chief Business Officer Bill Graves for approval at 5:04 p.m. on July 11. The ULM Athletic Foundation and Aspire agreed to terms on July 22, 2013.
Aspire failed to meet the $250,000 benchmark guaranteed in the service agreement and informed Wickstrom on March 12, 2015 it was using an early termination clause to end its three-year contract with the ULM Athletic Foundation effective July 1, 2015.
According to the lawsuit, Mullin reached out to Wickstrom to discuss the possibility of outsourcing ULM’s ticketing services shortly after Wickstrom was named athletic director at ULM. Wickstrom and Mullin began working on a contract prior to Wickstrom’s arrival at ULM.
Wickstrom was hired as ULM’s athletic director on July 1, 2013 from UC-Riverside, where he held the same position and entered into a similar agreement with Aspire.