Personal seat licenses are a weird thing. When it goes well, forcing fans to buy the right to buy season tickets — a right that they can then sell to other fans down the road, demand willing — can raise hundreds of millions of dollars for teams building new stadiums. When it goes not so well, fans realize they don’t have to spend on PSLs in order to get tickets, the bottom drops out of the PSL market, and the Oakland Raiders happen.
The Atlanta Falcons are currently walking that knife’s edge with their PSL sales, which with 16 months to go before the new stadium opens, are slowing just shy of the halfway mark:
The latest sales figures — obtained from the GWCCA, a state agency, through an open-records request — show 4,437 club seats have been sold (up from 4,259 through Nov. 30) for $98 million and 24,774 non-club seats have been sold (up from 22,358 through Nov. 30) for $70.8 million.
The Falcons have said PSLs will be required for all seats sold as season tickets in the 71,000-seat stadium, with the exception of about 5,000 seats in suites. Team officials have declined to say how many seats are available as season tickets, noting some seats are withheld for groups, sponsors and other business purposes.
This isn’t necessarily a disaster — 16 months is a long time, and the Falcons can always tweak their pricing like the New York Jets did if they have to. And since they’re only counting on the PSLs bringing in a couple hundred million dollars, and it’s on Falcons owner Arthur Blank to make up any shortfall, it’s not a big deal from a public-cost perspective.
Still, if it turns out that Falcons fans didn’t have to buy PSLs in order to get seats, and the value of the licenses collapses as a result, this could lead to other cities’ fans getting cold feet about giving their cash over for an asset that they can’t resell at anything close to what they paid for it, which could ultimately end up wounding the PSL goose, if not outright killing it. And that would have a significant effect on how future NFL stadiums get funded, and which ones get built at all. Worth keeping an eye on, anyway.