Falcons’ seat-license sales slow recently

Sales of personal seat licenses for the Falcons’ new stadium have slowed in recent months.

The Falcons sold 2,594 seats in Mercedes-Benz Stadium from Dec. 1 through March 31, according to figures obtained this week from the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the latest figures available.

That brings the seat-license sales to 29,211 seats for $168.8 million since sales began in January 2015, records show.

With about 16 months remaining before the Falcons’ first regular-season game is scheduled to be played in the new downtown stadium in September 2017, personal seat licenses have been sold for about 45 percent of the non-suite seats. The PSLs are one-time fees for the right to buy Falcons season tickets.

Michael Drake, senior vice president and chief revenue officer of Falcons parent company AMB Sports & Entertainment, said the recent lull in sales was not a surprise at this point in the process, based on his past work on other NFL stadium projects.

“Candidly, I’m feeling really kind of good about those numbers,” Drake said. “This is nothing abnormal from my perspective, coming out of the other processes, for this little window of time, where the building is still far enough out.”

He said the Falcons’ goal remains to sell out of season tickets in the new stadium by the start of the 2017 season.

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.

The Falcons’ seat-license prices range from $500 to $45,000, with down payments of 10 percent ($50 to $4,500) required when sales contracts are signed. The PSLs buy the right to purchase season tickets that range from $55 to $385 per game.

Drake said the seats carrying the $45,000 license fees, in the lower bowl at the 50-yard line, are sold out to the general public.

In addition to the stadium preview/sales center in Buckhead, the Falcons recently opened a “satellite” preview center in the Georgia Dome, Drake said.

For those who bought seat licenses last year and financed the purchase, a second installment payment was due Feb. 29. According to the Falcons, 509 account holders — about 5 percent of the accounts — haven’t made their second payment. The Falcons said they are seeking to work with those account holders on payment plans.

The proceeds from the PSL sales go toward the cost of building the $1.4 billion stadium but don’t affect the amount of taxpayer money in the project.

The taxpayer contribution toward construction is $200 million from bonds backed by Atlanta hotel-motel taxes, with the remainder coming from the Falcons, the NFL and the PSL sales.

Hundreds of millions in additional hotel-motel tax dollars are expected to ultimately be spent on operating and maintaining the stadium. The exact amount depends on tax collections over the next three decades, during which 39.3 percent of a 7-cents-per-dollar tax on Atlanta hotel rooms will go to the stadium each year, the same percentage that currently goes to the Georgia Dome.

After debt service for principal and interest on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium bonds — about $15 million per year — is paid from the stadium’s share of the tax, the remainder will go toward maintenance, operations and capital improvements. The tax brought in $23.89 million for the Georgia Dome in fiscal 2015.

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