Seat-license prices rile Falcons fans

From talk radio to social media to water-cooler conversation, many Falcons fans lashed out Thursday at the team’s prices for personal seat licenses in the new stadium under construction downtown.

The Falcons plan to begin club-seat PSL sales Monday after receiving unanimous approval from the Georgia World Congress Center Authority board Thursday of prices ranging from $10,000 to $45,000.

Typical of reactions to the prices, first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was that of Fred Stoddard, a 17-year Falcons season-ticket holder who lives in Douglasville.

“I’m not going to consider it at all,” Stoddard said. “Economically, it would make absolutely no sense. I think it’s absolutely insane.”

To get seats comparable to the two he currently has on the seventh row behind the Falcons’ bench around the 40-yard line, Stoddard said he’d have to pay $40,000 — $20,000 per seat — in PSL fees. In addition, the seats would cost him $365 each per game, compared to the $149 he pays now.

“It’s … depressing,” Stoddard said.

Falcons officials didn’t seem surprised by widespread negative reaction to the PSL prices.

“We’re not the first to do this,” Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay said. “Obviously, all the stadiums that have been built recently have used some type of similar program. And we understand the pushback of that. That’s part of the process to finance the new stadiums.”

A personal seat license is a one-time fee for the right to buy season tickets in a specific seat for the length of a team’s stadium lease — 30 years in the case of the new Falcons facility. PSL buyers are allowed to transfer or sell the licenses to other parties.

The prices set by the Falcons so far cover 7,700 club seats, about 11 percent of the 71,000-seat stadium. All other seats sold as season tickets also will require PSLs, but those prices won’t be set until summer, the Falcons said. Those prices are expected to fall at various levels below $10,000.

“I think you’ll find as we move into the (non-club) seat rollout that we have tried to be very sensitive to making sure the prices are fair and inclusive and that those people that have been our loyal fans have an opportunity to be in this new stadium,” McKay said. “We want them in this stadium.

“There’s no question that when you look at the key seats and the headline prices, those are expensive prices,” McKay conceded. “We understand those are.”

Michael Drake, vice president of Legends Global Sales, the firm hired by the Falcons to handle PSL sales, said lower-bowl ticket holders are particularly impacted because of a trend in newer NFL stadiums to move club seats closer to the field from their traditional location in the middle bowl.

“It’s a product of design,” Drake said. “The club seats in the NFL … have moved to the lower bowl.”

Still, some Falcons fans said the PSLs will push them out of the type of close-to-the-action seats they have long enjoyed.

“I feel betrayed,” Blake Turner wrote in an email.. “I guess I have built exactly (zero) good will over the years as far as the Falcons are concerned.”

Turner said he and his brother have season tickets for four seats on the 50-yard line that have been in their family for 37 years. Four comparable seats in the new stadium will cost $180,000 in PSLs — $45,000 each — plus ticket prices of $385 per seat per game.

“Our seats are great because of support and tenure, not money,” Turner said. “In this new world it is all about money, not length of sitting through terrible season after terrible season. … No way I will pay for my new seats.”