Are Permanent Seat Licenses a Good Investment?

Raiders Stadium
With the Oakland Raiders’ taxpayer-subsidized stadium in Las Vegas being approved by the Nevada Legislature, it is likely that they will relocate once the move is approved by the NFL.  The team will contribute some of the funds towards the construction of the stadium, and Permanent Seat Licenses (PSL’s) are a proven way for the team to raise the funds.

What are Permanent Seat Licenses?

Permanent Seat Licenses give holders the right to buy a particular set of seats for as long as the team plays in that venue.  They raise money for the team, usually to construct the stadium, and they give the sports fan the right to lock in on a particular set of seats.  You still have to pay the ticket prices for the seats each year, or else you forfeit the PSL back to the team.  The team cannot move you to an inferior seat; for instance, if you have a PSL for 4 seats that are 10 rows back, on the aisle, and on the 50 yard line, then you can keep the exact same seats as long as you keep paying for them each year.  The holder of the permanent seat license can also sell the PSL to someone else, giving them the right to buy the particular set of tickets.

How Much do Permanent Seat Licenses Cost?

When Permanent Seat Licenses first came into the marketplace in the 80’s and 90’s, some were available for as little as $250 and even the priciest ones were only a few thousand dollars.  The most expensive PSL’s sold for Charlotte’s new stadium (Carolina Panthers) in 1996 were just $4000.  However, the latest few offerings have been a different story.  The New York stadium (Jets/Giants), Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and Atlanta Falcons have PSLs that cost as much as $100,000 or more for the top seats.  The most expensive Dallas Cowboys PSL is currently listed for resale at $262,500.  The Las Vegas stadium will likely see a range of a few thousand up to perhaps $150,000 depending on seat location.

How Can You Make Money from Permanent Seat Licenses?

There are basically two ways to make money from PSLs.  One is to hold the PSL, buy very desirable tickets that can be re-sold to the general marketplace for above face value.  This is a really tough strategy.  The teams are very conscious of the marketplace.  They have large marketing departments that study pricing and whose job is to charge the price that brings the team the optimal amount of money for each seat.  They don’t want to charge so much that fans say “enough is enough” and walk away, but they definitely want to keep prices moving up and try to take as much out of your wallet as possible; basically take you to the edge of what you are comfortable with.  There certainly will be some situations where you can re-sell your tickets for more money; maybe a great traveling team like the Packers is coming to town, or maybe your team has an unexpected 8-1 record and is a playoff contender.  However, you may also have to subsidize pre-season games that no one really wants and late season games when your team has a down year and is out-of-contention.

The other way you can make money is to sell your PSL for more than you paid.  STR Marketplace tracked PSL prices in a number of different markets over a 10 year period from 2002 to 2012.  Steelers PSLs went up about 800%, Ravens almost 250%, and Bears over 125%.  However, keep in mind that was a golden period for PSLs.  They were priced cheaply backed in the 90’s and 2000’s, often only a few hundred dollars.  Now teams extract ridiculous prices for new PSLs, partly because they can, and partly because the price tags of new stadiums have risen from a couple hundred million up to the $2 billion range.  Any new PSL you buy from the team is almost guaranteed to lose money, and most likely lots of money.  Many of the resales from the New York Giants and Jets stadium have sold for a 90%+ discount from the prices the original holders paid the team.

It is possible to make money flipping a PSL, but only if you buy it at a below market price and sell it for market value (less commissions) to someone else.  Obviously the challenge is finding a PSL holder that is willing to sell to you for below market value.  Maybe it would be someone who was fed up with the team and about to surrender their PSL back to the team, maybe it would be someone who inherited and just wanted quick cash for it, or maybe someone just underpriced their PSL for a quick sale.  In order to find that market value buyer to sell to, you would most likely use one of the major websites offering a marketplace for PSLs.

Where Can You Buy and Sell Permanent Seat Licenses?

The main websites that allow buying and selling PSLs are: SeasonTicketRights.com (aka STRMarketplace) and PSLSource.com.  Other sources include word-of-mouth, eBay, and Craigslist.  As with any person-to-person transaction on the Internet, be careful and do your due diligence before buying anything.

 

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