Raiders kill PSL’s – The lessons learned

The Raiders have officially declared their ill-conceived PSL system dead. Unfortunately for Raider fans, they’ve had to endure 10 years of high prices, walk-up fans that can get seats just as good as the PSL holders without paying for PSL’s, and television blackouts that result from poor ticket sales. Under the new arrangement, the Raiders will take over all ticket sales and marketing operations from the Oakland Football Marketing Association, which will now take its rightful place alongside such flops as the Titanic and the Ford Edsel.

This doesn’t mean the concept of the seat license is dead. While Lew Wolff has acknowledged the lack of popularity for the maligned PSL, it’s still hard to imagine a new stadium being built these days without some kind of sale. Advanced PSL sales can account for roughly 10% of total financing, which is no small number. Combine that with naming rights and other marketing deals, and the upfront share can easily reach $100 million without an owner having to spend a single cent out of pocket. The Cardinals have more than sold out their seat licenses for next year’s edition of Busch Stadium, and the Yankees will likely do the same with the new Yankee Stadium. Maybe Wolff can fund the project without having to resort to selling seat licenses, but I’m skeptical.

The real lessons to be learned from the Raiders/OFMA debacle are:

  • Make sure the demand is there.
  • Have the subscriptions be lifetime subscriptions, not renewable ones.
  • Instead, lock in the ticket prices associated with a seat license for a set number of years, then let the consumer decide if he/she wants to renew and lock in price controls again.
  • Make sure the licenses are transferable via sales or bequest.

As painful as this ordeal was for the taxpayers of Alameda County, other cities and teams learned much from the Raiders’ cautionary tale, and made sure that their efforts didn’t repeat the same mistakes as those committed in Oakland.


Another note – I have reluctantly added the “word verification” feature to comments in order to combat the spam-bots that occasionally make comments on the posts. Not a big fan of it, but sometimes it’s necessary.

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