TAMPA, Fla. - Football fans are demanding answers, saying they paid money for tickets they never got.
On Thursday, October 5, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are scheduled to play the New England Patriots at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Several months ago, a local fan meetup group, Patriots Nation of Tampa Bay, started organizing the purchase of a block of tickets for fellow Patriots fans. The aim was to buy the tickets at cost, directly from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
By February, several fans started to write checks to "Patriots Nation of Tampa Bay" operated by Andre Brown, the organizer. Often the checks were for hundreds of dollars, fans told ABC Action News.
But then, questions and confusing started bubbling up within the group. They say as the months passed, there were questions on whether the tickets were actually purchased and where they were.
Soon, the administrator of the Patriots Nation of Tampa Facebook page posted a picture to show that the tickets existed.
Then, earlier this week, a bombshell. The Patriots Nation of Tampa Bay sending out this email to dozens of people.
I am writing to update you on the status of your ticket requests for the October 5th New England Patriots game here in Tampa. Unfortunately at this time, we do not have enough available seats to assign you to. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were only able to fulfill 1510 of the seats we requested. I am truly, truly sorry for this inconvenience... but we were just made of aware of this information when the tickets were recently received and after assigning all the spaces in order of deposits. We lost a significant number of seats in the premium box seats as well some of the upper level sections later assigned to the group as our numbers grew.
However after many discussions with their office, we are working with them on a daily basis to secure additional seats as they become available right up until game day. These may come from season ticket holders who have not renewed their seats, package sales to the general public that are not sold, or seats that have been reserved by the organization for personal use. In fact, we were able to recover 20 tickets for the group yesterday. We understand this is not the best of news at this time... but please know that we are on the phone with them everyday now and truly want everyone to be able to enjoy this event.
Of course in the unfortunate case that we are unable to secure seats for you, a full refund of the moneys submitted to the group will be given.
- Patriots Nation of Tampa
"People are very very angry," Sarah Burns, a Patriots fan who lives in Tampa told ABC Action News.
"I was fully paid by February," Burns said on a Facebook thread within the group. "So was everyone else I have talked to who will not be receiving their tickets. Therefore, our money was either used to buy other tickets or was spent elsewhere and not available at the time of purchase. This is absolutely unacceptable."
Other fans sounded off on the thread as well.
"This is insane!" one person wrote. "How do they have them all sorted and than run out? This is a complete waste of time as I could have found them another way instead of having my money tied up for months!"
ABC Action News contacted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers regarding the purchase of the block of tickets. Representatives for the team and group tickets sales said Brown came to them several months ago without enough money for the number of tickets they were requesting.
There are also many out-of-state fans who were making travel plans, booking flights and hotel rooms, to be in town for the game.
"Honestly, my gut says somebody just messed up and was afraid to say something," Heather Slack, a Patriots fan from Massachusetts told ABC Action News via FaceTime.
Now, fans are wondering if they will receive a refund from Patriots Nation of Tampa Bay.
ABC Action News reached out to organizer Andre Brown repeatedly for comment for this story Wednesday, and have not heard back.