What Are PSLs? A Basic Look at Personal Seat Licenses
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - It seems that you can't talk about a new football stadium without mentioning three magic words.
Personal Seat Licenses.
As much of the talk about the Buffalo Bills in recent weeks is centered around the possibility of a new stadium in the near future, Personal Seat Licenses, or PSLs, have come up as a point of dispute. What exactly are PSLs?
"If a new stadium is to be built, and I want to reiterate if, I think the general assumption is that an ownership group would have to come up with a substantial amount of money associated with the construction of a new stadium," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "There are varying ways for the ownership to pay that back."
Personal Seat Licenses are one of those ways.
"These are one-time fees that season ticket holders pay for the right to buy season tickets," said Don Muret of the Sports Business Journal. "It does not include the cost to buy season tickets every year, but you control that seat."
In simple terms, fans of teams who charge PSLs must pay a one time fee. That fee gives the purchasing fan a "license" to a particular seat, meaning they are then able to buy season tickets. That license is good for as long as it's owner renews their season tickets, and can be sold to another fan at any time. If a fan chooses to not renew their season tickets, the PSL is not refunded.
Personal Seat License fees are typically in the thousands of dollars, but could be as low as $500, as seen with some seats in the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, or as high as $80,000, which is the price on some seats in the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The fees are currently used by 15 of the NFL's 32 teams, and while they were originally introduced to help fund the cost of stadium construction, the practice of charging PSLs has continued well after the bills have been paid.
How valuable are PSLs to NFL owners? In Minnesota, where a new stadium is under construction, PSLs are expected to bring in $100 Million. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has agreed to pay $477 Million, just under half, of the stadium's construction cost. That means 21% of Wilf's expense to build a new stadium will be paid for by fans buying PSLs.
Will that same system work in Western New York?
"Those are discussions that the New Stadium Working Group is going to look at," Poloncarz said. "And those are truthfully discussions that we are going to have with the new ownership group. Maybe the new ownership group will come in and say 'we are willing to front $250 Million for the cost of a new stadium if the community comes back and pays PSLs.'"
For now, Poloncarz says the discussion on PSLs, as well as the one on a new stadium, has to wait until new ownership takes control of the team.