Washington Commanders settles NFL ticket deposit abuse claims

A detailed view of the new Washington Commanders uniforms following the announcement of the Washington Football Team’s name change to Washington Commanders at FedExField on February 2, 2022 in Landover, Maryland.

Rob Carr | Getty Images

The NFL’s Washington Commanders will pay $625,000 to settle allegations by the Washington, DC Attorney General that the organization failed to return fans’ ticket deposits, the AG’s office announced Monday.

Former DC Attorney General Karl Racine sued the Commanders in November, alleging that the team cheated local residents out of their deposits collected from season ticket holders and used the money for its own ends. The lawsuit also alleged that the team “deliberately complicated the returns process by imposing additional, onerous conditions that were not previously adequately disclosed.”

Racine claimed the Commanders had been selling premium seat tickets to DC fans since 1996, sometimes requiring a deposit. While the team promised ticketholders they would get their deposits back within 30 days of the expiration of the contracts, Racine claimed the team pocketed and spent the money at times for over a decade.

A spokesman for Commanders said in a statement the team has not collected bail for more than a decade and has been “actively working to return all remaining bail since 2014.”

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the DC Attorney General on this matter and will be working with the office to fulfill our obligations to our fans,” the spokesperson said.

The team denied any wrongdoing in settling the claims.

Under the settlement agreement, the Commanders will pay more than $200,000 to affected fans, as well as $425,000 to the district for “reimbursement, attorneys’ fees, costs related to the investigation and contributions to the district’s litigation assistance fund,” a release said from the office of Brian Schwalb, the current AG.

The agreement requires commanders to conduct a public search for affected fans and attempt to notify them through various means, including phone calls and emails. The team must also make the refund process prominently visible on its website and provide “regular reports” to the attorney general’s office documenting its attempts to return the money.

In a statement related to the settlement agreement, Schwalb said his office will “closely monitor the commanders” to ensure fans are properly reimbursed the full refund they are entitled to.

“Our office takes seriously the obligation to enforce DC’s consumer protection laws by holding accountable anyone who attempts to exploit the district’s consumers,” he added.

Commanders have been hit with several allegations of misconduct from the team’s front office in recent years. In 2022, a House Oversight and Reform Committee report said the NFL and Commanders had misled the public about an investigation into the team’s long-standing workplace misconduct.

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