By Alan Snel of LVSportsBiz.com
Andy Kopel is a gaming law expert who worked for the casino industry, but then changed gears and represented casino workers as a class-action labor lawyer.
The 62-year-old Las Vegas man takes pride in representing the under-represented.
That’s why Kopel has launched a national fan organization called the Fan Action Nation — or FAN — to encourage fans to lock arms and work together when they believe professional sports teams and owners are taking advantage of fan. It combines Kopel’s interests in sports and consumer advocacy.
A former San Francisco Bay area resident and former poker dealer, Kopel became a Golden State Warriors season ticket holder a few years ago when he bought a season deal for nosebleed seats the second row from the top of the arena in Oakland.
The Warriors increased season ticket prices 20 percent every season, said Kopel, who was the first executive director of the California Gaming Association, representing the non-legal interests of casino owners. But “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was when the NBA team gave a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal to season ticket holders in 2018 to pay a $25,000 personal seat license for the Warriors’ new arena in San Francisco, he said.
Kopel also recalled trying to bring in a bottle of water into the Warriors arena to take his medication, but was told he could not bring it in. Instead, he said he was either forced to buy an $8 bottle of water inside the basketball arena or stick his head under the sink faucet in the men’s bathroom.
“I want to give power to the members of our organization and represent their interests,” Kopel said. “Where does the sports fan or season ticket holder go? As a class-action labor lawyer, who better than me to empower and mobilize sports fans.”
The FAN will be a for-profit company, something that he called a “capitalistic democracy for sports fans.”
Kopel has self-financed the creation of the FAN, investing $40,000 into starting the company and giving up his law practice.
He envisions the FAN as an AARP style advocacy group for sports fans and plans to hold a national convention in Las Vegas in January 2021 to bring together fan leaders from across the U.S.
In a recent email to members, Kopel wrote, “A new and exciting website with great content, a unique podcast, ‘Our House, Our Voice,’ and a crowdfunding campaign on several digital platforms will be synchronized to drive a grass-roots membership drive. We are working hard to secure sponsors, as well as a long-term philanthropic partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada.”
The website explains: “The FAN is a one-of-a-kind membership community, with political and charitable action arms for the 21st century sports fan. Whether the issue is stadium security, ticket prices and commissions, rule changes, relocation of teams, taxpayer financing of new arenas, or the legality of fantasy sports or internet poker, sports fans will finally become a represented “special interest group.”
There would also be extra group benefits:
“With numbers and a “Membership is Power” mantra, The FAN will offer additional benefits: rewards and discounts, interesting and important sports content, interactive contests and surveys to direct our lobby. The FAN is a unique opportunity to create relationships amongst our members and our corporate partners and change the landscape of sports. The FAN will be your voice to represent and empower you in the complex $2 trillion dollar global sports industry,” the website said.
Here’s the organization’s first podcast:
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