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Hockey Season-ticket memberships that happen in Vegas may have to stay in Vegas

Fans celebrate a goal by Vegas Golden Knights left wing Tomas Nosek during the third period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 28, 2018.

Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press

One of the hottest attractions on Sin City’s strip, the Vegas Golden Knights, say they don’t condone situations where season-ticket holders “purchase a membership with the intent of profiting.”

But a Calgary-based fan whose seats have been revoked says she’s been unfairly targeted.

A season-ticket holder since Day 1, Cheryl Sullivan was taken aback by an e-mail from the Knights last week stating she wouldn’t be allowed buy playoff tickets this spring or continue as a member.

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“Completely shocked,” Sullivan, whose family owns property in Las Vegas, said in a phone interview. “We were just down there at Christmas.

“I never hid the fact that I’m not going to make it to 41 games. If there’s a percentage I’m not supposed to sell then that needs to be known. I’m not a [ticket] broker.”

Without getting into specifics, citing privacy concerns, the Knights said in a statement: “We certainly do not arbitrarily revoke memberships without notice. Our team does a significant amount of research on the account before making any decisions.”

Sullivan said a combination of family and friends attended 12 home games this season before getting the news from the team. She sold the other eight games on the secondary ticket market.

The Knights used StubHub as their official resale site last season, but switched to Flash Seats for 2018-19.

Sullivan continued with StubHub when off-loading tickets this fall, but switched to Flash Seats when contacted by the club. A number of professional teams have agreements with third-party websites to sell unused tickets, often at a markup.

“I got a slap on the wrist and I changed to Flash,” she said. “Not once did I get an e-mail stating that I’ve sold too many tickets.”

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In the e-mail from the team notifying her of the cancellation, the Knights told Sullivan they had determined her account “was used primarily for the purpose of reselling the tickets.”

“This type of use of a season-ticket membership harms fans who wish to hold a membership to attend games themselves,” the e-mail read.

Sullivan says part of the issue was the tickets were solely in her name, meaning that when she transferred them to friends or family using the Flash Seats app, it might seem like a regular fan-to-fan transaction. She said she has attended two games using her account with the app this season.

Sullivan signed a membership agreement, which allows for the team to pursue legal options in the case of a breach “including but not limited to revocation or cancellation” of memberships.

She’s frustrated because she says the rules are unclear – on one hand allowing season-ticket holders to sell seats to games they can’t attend while at the same time leaving the door open for the team to take action if it sees fit.

“If there’s an issue for me selling my tickets, then why e-mail me how to use Flash Seats?” she said. “They obviously need to tighten their policy.”

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Sullivan said the face value of her two tickets is roughly US$80 each in the regular season. She concedes she made money during the expansion team’s run to the Stanley Cup final last spring – often hundreds of dollars over face value – but so did many other fans.

“To call me a broker, it’s basically calling me a liar,” she said. “I made money on the playoff tickets. Who didn’t? Show me how many people sold their tickets for face value.

“I was in the wrong because I did financially gain … but there’s nothing in my agreement on how many tickets I have to actually [use].”

Sullivan’s husband and father-in-law attended Washington’s series-clinching victory in Game 5 of the final, the only family members to use the tickets at T-Mobile Arena in the postseason.

The Vegas franchise’s potential owners ran a drive to gauge fan interest long before an expansion team was awarded in June 2016. Sullivan said she was there to put money down.

Now that the team has taken off, she feels left behind.

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“We were there from the get-go,” Sullivan said. “There’s over 6,000-plus people on a waiting list. Well you know, you guys had your chance. You could have [bought tickets] when I bought mine. I took the risk.

“This team could have flopped the first year and I could have been in the hole. That’s a gamble you take, especially in all places – Vegas.”

Sullivan said the Knights reached out to offer tickets at membership rates when she’s in town, but the decision on her account is final.

“This is a done deal,” she said. “It just sucks.”

Fans from across North America often travel to Las Vegas to watch their teams play the Knights, and Sullivan understands wanting to create more of a hometown feel.

“If you’re expecting the entire arena to solely be Knights fans, that’s crazy,” she added. “It’s sports. There’s rivalries.”

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Sullivan, who is thinking about selling the rest of her tickets and donating the profits to charity, said she’s heard from other Vegas fans – including some in Canada – that have also had their memberships cancelled.

The mother of 2½-year-old twins, Sullivan said her family will continue supporting the Knights.

But the situation has left a sour taste.

“It’s an amazing story,” she said of the franchise’s incredible start. “It hasn’t tarnished the team. I’ve been slightly [disappointed] by the organization.

“It’s not right.”

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