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Reality Check: PSLs And The Vikings Stadium

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Negotiations on a new Vikings stadium are winding down, but a new controversy may be heating up.

The Vikes will very likely charge fans for a personal seat license (or PSL) even before they can buy a season ticket.

Seventeen of 32 NFL teams sell one-time personal seat licenses. The Dallas Cowboys charge up to $150,000; the 49ers charge up to $80,000. But most NFL teams charge much less. The Chicago Bears, for instance, charge up to $3,500.

And even though the Vikings once surveyed fans about PSLs up to $30,000, state officials say Minnesota’s looking at something much more modest.

“But it’s not the Dallas or the New York or the San Francisco model, which have very expensive seat licenses for almost all the folks in the stadium,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA).

The Vikings are negotiating the following with the MSFA:

– How many seat licenses the team can sell in a new stadium.

– The upper end price tag limit for the most expensive seats.

– PSL financing terms for fans, including interest rates.

For team owners hungry for revenue, PSLs are hard to resist. A 2010 study found 15 NFL teams sold an average of 48,200 licenses, filling up 69 percent of their stadium seats.

Moreover, they raised as much as a high of $650 million in Dallas to a low of $20.5 million in Seattle.

Even though the Vikings are taking heat for selling seat licenses in the new stadium, 29 pro teams in different sports do it, including teams in the major pro sports leagues, such as the NBA, MLB, NHL and NASCAR.

And in Minnesota, the Vikes aren’t even the first.

The Minnesota Twins charge between $1,000 and $2,000 for what the team says is a small number of premium seats at Target Field.

And the Minnesota Gophers charge an annual “fee” of $100 to $500 a ticket at TCF Bank Stadium.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

NFL Stadium Funding by Team, Public
http://prod.static.vikings.clubs.nfl.com/assets/docs/stadium/DES-recent-nfl-stadiums.pdf

San Fransisco 49ers PSLs
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/03/13/santa-clara-accepts-400m-in-ticket-licenses-for-new-49ers-stadium/

Chicago Bears PSL Prices
http://www.chicagobears.com/tickets-and-stadium/seat-specific-psl-faq.html

Avgerage NFL Seat License Stats
Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily
http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2011/09/08/NFL-Season-Preview/PSLs.aspx

AP: Vikings Float Seat License Idea
http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/11/16/official-vikings-have-right-for-seat-licenses/

Atlanta Journal Constitution
PSLs in new Falcons Stadium
http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/football/blank-seat-licenses-are-part-of-stadium-plan/nTRyp/

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