This is all based on an unnamed source, but if true, it’s absolutely nuts: San Jose Mercury News reporter Tim Kawakami says that the San Francisco 49ers‘ projected profit for next year, when they move into their new stadium in Santa Clara, is $100 million. That would be up from profits of not very much (Kawakami says the team is breaking even, Forbes says it’s more like $10 million a year in profits), and would make them the fourth most profitable franchise in the NFL — even after having to pay for almost all of the cost of their new $1.3 billion stadium.
How are the 49ers expecting to manage that? Per Kawakami:
That’s thanks to the massive success of the seat-license program, the suites, the sponsorships, and all the varying relationships and deals that the 49ers have strung together in recent months and years in conjunction with the stadium opening.
If true, it certainly explains why the 49ers were willing to take on so much of the stadium cost — if they can shell out an additional $100 million a year to pay off construction and still have another $100 million a year left over, that’s seriously crazy money, and shows that NFL stadiums (or at least, NFL stadiums for winning teams in a part of the country with tons of rich people) are an exception to the rule that stadiums don’t usually earn enough in new revenue to pay back their construction costs. It also makes one wonder why other cities are shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars for new stadiums for their teams when there’s potentially enough new venue revenue for them to pay their own way — not to mention whether Santa Clara could have asked for a cut of the 49ers swag in exchange for its financing piece of the deal, instead of just breaking even as it will currently.
Of course, that money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere will be 49er fans, either via their eyeballs as advertising consumers or their wallets by paying for tickets (and PSLs). And paying for other things as well:
Parking fees haven’t been set yet, but they run in the $30 to $35 range per car and up to $75 for RVs and buses at Candlestick and at Raiders games. One South Bay city official told me would not be surprised to see prices in the $40 to $50 range for cars at the new 49ers stadium. When the San Jose Sharks arena opened, fans were outraged to pay $10 to park. How much are you willing to pay to park at a 49ers game?
The answer appears to be “a lot.” Or at least, is for the rarified clientele who will make up 49ers ticketholders. Now the 49ers owners had just better hope that the team stays good and popular for the duration of the stadium bonds — and that, you know, football doesn’t get sued out of existence in the meantime.