Goodell floats Raiders move to Santa Clara, but 49ers fans’ PSL rights could be stumbling block

The San Francisco 49ers‘ new Santa Clara stadium had its ribbon-cutting yesterday, and according to Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh, whose company bought the naming rights to the place, it is “the most amazing stadium on the face of the planet.” Though, according to SF Gate’s Ann Killion, all NFL stadiums “are big, impersonal, infrequently used and tend to be the same, depending on what era they were built in,” so maybe Bergh is grading on a curve here.

In any event, the stadium opening was slightly overshadowed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s suggestion that the Oakland Raiders might want to consider moving in there as well if stadium talks in Oakland go poorly:

“They have to make that determination, whether they’re in a new stadium in Oakland or whether they feel that it’s best to join this stadium,” Goodell said, according to the Bay Area Sports Guy, who tweeted the commissioner’s remarks. “We’re working on that, and that’s one of the decisions they’ll have to make.”

Rattling move-threat sabers is, needless to say, Goodell’s job. And the 49ers owners have been open to renting to the Raiders if need be. Yet as the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami points out, there could be a major stumbling block to the Raiders and 49ers sharing digs: the stadium builders licenses (aka personal seat licenses) that the 49ers sold, for anywhere from $2,000 to $80,000 per seat, to raise $500 million toward construction.

Part of the agreement is that SBL-holders have first dibs on most other events at the stadium…. There is no way the Raiders would agree to 49ers SBL-holders getting first look at their tickets.

Even if they did, the 49ers wouldn’t want to share any % of their precious SBL cash with the Raiders.

That’s a problem on two counts. First off, since SBLs have already been sold, the Raiders would be missing out on a source of cash that the team could otherwise collect at its own new stadium. On top of that, though, if the Raiders then sold tickets without requiring their own PSL purchases, 49ers seat license holders could scream bloody murder about being forced to put up tens of thousands of dollars for seats while Raiders fans paid nothing, and even potentially file lawsuits over the inequity. Kawakami says NFL sources have “muttered” about this problem previously, and that “nobody has a good answer for it, not practically.”

Kawakami doesn’t mention it, but this is a potential stumbling block with any proposed move of the A’s to San Francisco’s AT&T Park, which the Giants similarly sold PSLs, though only on the 15,000 priciest seats. Giants “charter seat license” holders likewise have dibs on buying tickets to other events at the stadium, which could cause major problems in the event of an A’s move. Not that the A’s are likely to move, or the Giants to okay it without usurious lease terms, but it’s an important reminder that there’s more to relocating a team than just saying, “Hey, look, that stadium is empty part of the time, let’s set up there!”

UPDATE: A 49ers SBL holder has posted language that seems to indicate that the 49ers accounted for this problem by omitting “other NFL games” from SBL rights — see comments.

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34 comments on “Goodell floats Raiders move to Santa Clara, but 49ers fans’ PSL rights could be stumbling block

  1. So much misinformation here–I have the Giants 2013 CSL contract in front of me, the ONLY thing guaranteed is the right to by your seat for Giants regular season home games. Non-baseball events are at their discretion of the Giants. Games other than regular season Giants baseball games are disclaimed heavily (“subject to availability,” “subject to such terms,conditions, rules and regulations as may be established by Licensor, the Giants, the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and/or the City and of San Francisco.”)

    Giants license holders do not have dibs on everything–there are private events with no tickets offered, and public events where a presale is usually offered, with no guarantee of success or getting similar seats to what you own.

    What Kawakami hasn’t said–and I’ve asked–is that he’s seen a 49ers CSL contract and reviewed exactly what language is there regarding non-49ers events. There has to be something about this–certainly it’s specified there’s no rights to SB 50 tix with them. (So far, they’ve offered pre-sales to the non-49er events.)

  2. Mark – I’m go out on a limb here and say that an A’s game would not be a non-baseball event.

  3. Neil loves to stroke TK who in my opinion should be writing for the Nat’l Enquirer. He claims he has inside sources which are typically the mouthpieces of the gints and warriors using him as a way to get their opinion out. TK does no factual research and in fact has claimed that is not one of his responsibilities- amazing that anyone would use his “articles” as a source of good information- but hey- guess it gets headlines- which takes us back to the national enquirer

  4. @jmauro which is why I mentioned the language regarding games other than Giants regular season games. Article mentioned Giants CSL holders have dibs on buying other events, but they really don’t–it’s ALL discretionary.

  5. @Mark you are correct, I have had 35 SBLs with the niners for the new stadium. and this is what the contract language says for events:

    “(b) Events. Licensee will have a priority right to purchase from the Event Organizers one ticket per SBL for each Event at the Stadium before such tickets are marketed and sold by the Event Organizer to the general public; provided, however, that the Stadium Authority (x) makes no guarantee to Licensee regarding the availability of tickets to a particular Event and (y) may authorize the Event Organizer of any Event(s) (including but not limited to charitable, religious, civic or political Events) to reserve tickets for promotional or other purposes that will not be offered (or will not be offered on any priority basis) to the holders of SBLs and/or to the general public. Stadium seating is subject to re- configuration for different Events, and an Event Organizer may offer fewer tickets to a particular Event than there are SBLs.

    (c) “Event(s)” means concerts, sporting events and similar types of stadium functions to which tickets will be made available to the general public, excluding Team Games and other NFL games. The term “Events” does not include private parties and corporate or other functions that are not available to the general public.”

    As you can see, niner SBL holders will not have rights to “other NFL Games”

  6. Mark and Guey: Thanks for the info — I could only go by what SBL/CSL info was available online, which as you can see from the Giants site links above isn’t much. (Giants CSL holders are promised “opportunity to purchases tickets for other events held at AT&T Park.”)

    Let me see if I can get a response from Kawakami re: the “other NFL games” issue, since that does indeed sound like the 49ers deliberately carved this out.

  7. It would be beyond crazy to invest in an additional locker room to house a second NFL team and then exclude a second NFL team from playing there in your SBL contract- how does TK get away with putting his bs out there and having others eat it up- he also claims that HT is still a viable site for the A’s in Oakland regardless of what MLB just said and regardless of the massive amount of environmental cleanup required. As long as others continue to use him as a “reputable source” his spewing of misinformation will only continue-

  8. Wouldn’t shock me if Kawakami missed that kind of big provision. He’s not been the sharpest sports writer in the shed of late.

  9. The funny thing i’m thinking is maybe the raiders will go all out pirate on the 49ers and take over this stadium. I mean is it crazy to think the 49ers would build another new stadium back in San Fran in a few years and let the Raiders keep this stadium solo? Nothing shocks me in the world of building new stadiums. Well, i am a little shocked the raiders and/or chargers don’t move to LA. Also, a little surprised the Redskins don’t move back to DC in a stadium topping the new falcons/vikings digs. With all the money being spent in DC, a dome should happen. Yet, that probably requires a new name.

  10. If TK wanted to do some actual research he would find the biggest obstacle to the Raiders moving into Levi stadium is their current sweetheart deal with Oakland and the $7M annual operating subsidy that the JPA currently give to the Raiders to play at their present home. ..and the Oakland city council questioned the A’s proposed 10 year lease…below are the specifics of the raiders lease as outlined by ML at newballpark-

    The Raiders pay $400,000 per year in rent.
    The Raiders split parking revenues with the JPA, their share being roughly $1.75 million for the 2013 season.
    The Raiders pay for zero stadium operating costs, and are subsidized to the tune of $7 million per year, including the costs to convert the stadium between baseball and football (and vice-versa).

  11. Pisspoor article Neil.

    Of course 49ers PSLs don’t include rights for a second NFL team. And what would make you think the Raiders would get all the PSL revenue for Raiders games at Levi’s stadium? I’m sure the 9ers would take a large chunk of that revenue.

  12. Thanks for the info Mark.

    I’ve been wondering about the impact of PSLs on any number of stadia that have alternate uses and or multiple permanent tenants. Like most people I believe, I assumed that the PSL would entitle (but not obligate) the owner to buy tickets for any event at the facility open to the general public.

    Not so. Which makes them an even worse buy, IMO, but that’s up to the individual purchaser to determine.

  13. SJA: Agreed.

    The deal the city/JPA signed to get the Raiders back is pretty sweet for the Davis’. Last I heard, they claim it costs about $250k to convert the stadium between NFL/MLB configurations. Even if the A’s don’t make the playoffs and the Raiders start on the road, that’s likely to run well into 7 figures each year (including preseason NFL games).

    As a general fan of both the NFL and MLB, I was pleased to see the Raiders move back to Oakland. Having said that, at the time Oakland could have gotten a real good start on a dedicated football stadium for the price of Mt. Davis (The Bucs facility was built a couple of years later and cost $170m give or take)… and they wouldn’t have screwed up a pretty good baseball stadium by 90’s standards in doing so.

    But hey, this is Oakland we are talking about… and the $7m a year paid to the Raiders (or just not charged to the Raiders as the case may be) would also have paid the debt service on a new facility over the 20 years they’ve been back – if not paid for a new one outright.

    So… they’ve paid for a new facility more than once (arguably more than twice), and still don’t have a new facility… they have a monolith that even the Raiders don’t use fully, and the baseball team suffers because of.

    All of you who own Oakland city flags, wave them now.

  14. What sort of arrangements did the NY Giants and NY Jets make for their shared stadium? (For seat licenses and non-NFL event revenue)

  15. This is oversimplifying, in Giants Stadium, the Jets were tenants of the Giants. In Metlife Stadium, the Giants and Jets are co-owners. Each had their own way of selling seats / PSLs.

  16. Well, i am a little shocked the raiders and/or chargers don’t move to LA. Also, a little surprised the Redskins don’t move back to DC in a stadium topping the new falcons/vikings digs. With all the money being spent in DC, a dome should happen
    @Runner: The pitfalls of a new LA stadium have been gone over in depth here. Do a search on the tag, “Los Angeles NFL Team” or “Washington NFL Team” and it will pull up every article on the subject pertaining to said team.

  17. Wolff had an interesting response letter to all the recent shenanigans…

  18. Articles already being written regarding Wolff’s letter too.

  19. That third locker room was mandated by the league office to give Davis all the leverage he needs to hoodwink Alameda County again. Pretty cheap and smart. It was no accident. bank on it.

  20. @mayor- maybe so but Savis sure doesn’t know how to leverage it- came out today and said he has no interest in Levi because Raiders don’t share. You can’t make this shit up- just gets better and better-

  21. Just my opinion, but the 49ers were probably thinking about the Super Bowl rather the Raiders moving in when they were wrote in ‘other NFL games” into the contract.

  22. Yeah, Lawrence … No. Well, maybe partly, but overall, no. The 49er organization knew from the git-go that the NFL’s contribution of $200M was CONTINGENT upon the 49’ers being willing to share their stadium with another team, if the situation arose. And the Raiders were the most obvious ‘potential’ lessee in that whole discussion.

    But regardless, the language is there, and it’s not really refutable based on ‘oh, this is what they were thinking when they said that’. That’s not how legal language like this ends up being assessed when/if it goes to court.

  23. The Commish was wrong on another point, and as usual, the media missed it:

    It’s not for the Raiders to consent to, it’s for Jed York to agree to.

    Among the myriad of cave-ins and giveaways that our organization opposed along with the 49ers’ stadium subsidy was that the stadium lease gives the sole power of sublease to Jed York.

    That power of sublease was ripped out of the hands of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and of Santa Clarans with Measure Jed, on June 8th, 2010. Now that it’s locked into a binding agreement, we Santa Clarans have no power to control who, if anyone, gets any sublease.

    And still, the 49ers swear that it’s ‘our’ stadium.


    The 49ers are basically protecting their brand – jerseys and bobbleheads in the Team Store – by keeping Mark Davis at arm’s length. The Commish may posture on this as he wishes, but all Jed York has to do is flash his little stadium lease and all argument stops.

    Also at stake, however, is the forgiveness of certain of the debts that the defunct Redevelopment Agency undertook when it chose to subsidize Jed York with $42,000,000 of our property tax money. Jed York and Commissioner Goodell can keep doing this little dance, but at the end of the day, the city of Santa Clara is still stuck with the appalling deal it cut with the San Francisco 49ers. Only if Jed York consents to a sublease do we get any foregiveness on that debt.

    But all of that lovely property tax money from our former RDA is simply too good for Jed York and the 49ers to pass up – in calendar 2014, the 49ers will clear $16,200,000 out of that redevelopment trust fund.


    From the same fund that was supposed to provide monies for the Santa Clara Unified School District. It dwarfs the $2M promised for the STEM school at Cabrillo. It comes nowhere near close to mitigating the broken promises that the 49ers made to relocate the City of Santa Clara Youth Soccer Park, now that the 49ers have decided that the YSP is just too close to their stadium.

    People, please: Where the true details of the giveaway Stadium Lease – and the stadium’s subsidy – here in Santa Clara are concerned, please don’t trust the sportswriters. Misinfo such as Tim Kawakami’s clueless inaccuracies abound.

    And that’s a mere fraction of the utter nonsense on the stadium subsidy that we Santa Clarans have been fed for close to eight years now.

    William F. “Bill” Bailey, Treasurer,


  24. Well I just have to stay quiet because it’s now been scientifically proven that the stadium did in fact end up being a great deal for the city. We get a SB after all.

  25. @brettiv

    “But regardless, the language is there, and it’s not really refutable based on ‘oh, this is what they were thinking when they said that’. That’s not how legal language like this ends up being assessed when/if it goes to court.”

    Actually, it is. The reasonable expectations of the parties are always a factor when determining if a term in a contact is enforceable.

    That being said, the media conversation regarding Oakland maybe moving in while the stadium was going up, the stadium’s location, the fact the 49ers would get scheduling priority/main use of the stadium, and the clarity of the language (“other NFL games”) would probably weigh in the 49ers favour. Any ambiguities in a contact are read against the writer, especially with the imbalance here between seatholder and company is as great as it is here, though the legally sophisticated nature of the product would blunt this a bit.

    The only decent line of attack would be “I love NFL football and have access to Santa Clara. Relying on this, I purchased the seat license for the SF 49ers to have an opportunity. However, because Oakland is moving in and charging a lot less, I would have done that instead.” This could only work if you could prove that this was SF/NFL’s intentions all along, which would take a lot, and doesn’t jive with the situation at all.

    Or you could go anti-trust, but that’s for an American to explain…

  26. If I understand the weekend’s events correctly, the A’s lease changed again.

    – The A’s and JPA spend 14 months negotiating a lease. For whatever reasons the lease has a number of typos in it’s “final” revision. JPA and A’s both agree to this version.

    – The Oakland City Council “fixes” the typos and adds their own words. They vote on this revised lease without getting the approval of the JPA or A’s. City council claims changes are minor, others disagree.

    – The city council then sends this revised lease to the Oakland city attorney who then makes *her own* version of the lease. This version has been approved by nobody except (maybe) the city attorney’s secretary, who gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up. This version, approved by nobody, is then sent to the A’s, County and JPA. Secretary claims changes are minor, other disagree.

    How many lease agreements does it take before this is over? If the A’s and JPA then agree to the latest changes, doesn’t everyone have to vote again, including the Oakland city council?

    Should be an interesting 9 days coming up…

  27. We appreciate it, Santa Clara Jay. You are an honorable man who knows when to admit defeat.

  28. I am a SBL holder and I asked the sales guy about a 2nd team. He stated the season tickets holders of the 2nd team if they do move into Levi’s Stadium get first crack at season tickets.

    After they have all been served only then do the 49ers SBL holders get dibs. Of course when he said “season ticket holders of the 2nd team” he was implying the Raiders.

    I for one bought the license for 49ers games and other events. Levi’s Stadium is the only stadium on the West Coast where you can play outdoors in the winter. You can hold events year round and with LA having nothing in comparison for years to come it is a great investment.

    Remember, the SBL creates equity in the license as more events come year round. So if you paid 6k originally in 5 years it could be worth 7k-8k like a house appreciating in value.

    As for the Raiders, they are brain dead for not jumping in on Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers when the getting was good. They could still in theory jump in now, with minimal capital investment add a museum, Raiders team store, and statutes as there is a massive amount of room to do so.

    Also, all signs inside and outside are digital like MetLife Stadium in New Jersey so it can be flipped on game day when needed. For anyone who says the red seats are a problem the Oakland Coliseum before the Raiders left to LA had all their seats orange….So who cares really?

    But this is Mark Davis, who is a spoiled rich kid born with a silver spoon. He wants a new stadium like a kid not willing to share his candy with his friends when it makes all the sense in the world.

  29. Ty: Agreed, the intentions of the parties to any agreement often do carry significant weight when disputes arise. I’m not aware of an example in which “intent” clauses actually trumped contradictory language in an agreement, but they do matter. Thanks.

  30. “I for one bought the license for 49ers games and other events. Levi’s Stadium is the only stadium on the West Coast where you can play outdoors in the winter. You can hold events year round and with LA having nothing in comparison for years to come it is a great investment.
    Remember, the SBL creates equity in the license as more events come year round. So if you paid 6k originally in 5 years it could be worth 7k-8k like a house appreciating in value.”

    So that’s a SBL cost on top of the tickets themselves? Seems like a pretty expensive preference. If you sell it, do you charge like $6K or more per year you’ve held it? Like what other events? Tractor pulls & Justin Bieber concerts?

  31. 49ers PSLs are a pretty dodgy speculative investment given the prices the team was charging:

    Not to say you won’t get your money back, or most of it anyway. But if the 49ers suck in the year or two before you choose to sell, all that “like a house appreciating in value” might turn out to be wishful thinking. (Though I suppose that’s often been wishful thinking with houses of late, too.)

  32. I agree with Neil on the SBLs being a doggy investment based on the price of the SBLs upfront. I can see the lower level price point SBLs going up at a much faster rate vs the high price point SBLs. THat said it all comes down to supply and demand. Right now driving the demand is a winning team and a “new” stadium. The SBLs are sold out, so supply is technically low… how much of that supply will come onto the market when he team sucks? thats the question if a lot of people start to unload their SBL prices will go down, if not prices will stay at current rate or more likely a small to mid number percentage above the current rate.

    So of the 35 SBLs i bought i resold (transferred) 33 of them, once the SBLs were sold out their was still a demand to get them. I felt that in the long run the demand would not be as high as it is now, so i started to unload them. I basically charged a “finders fee” of 25% to 50% per SBL + return of my deposit + any fees, to who ever wanted the SBLs. I was surprised how many people were trying to buy them, it took me ~6 weeks to resale all of them, and had multiple bids on a lot of them.

    Based on the 20 years finance terms, i doubt many will come to the market even when the team sucks.

  33. Best not to think of SBL as an investment. It’s more like a timeshare, where after you made the initial investment, you still have the *obligation* to purchase tickets (like paying maintenance fees) every year in perpetuity, at prices set by the owner (once any initial price agreement are expired.) History has shown that these are just as likely to drop/remain flat as increase, especially for the pricey club seats. Maybe the 49ers are the NFL equivalent of Hawaii, a usual timeshare winner. But most of the league is Orlando.

    Neil-be glad to email the Giants contract if you wish.

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