Press Box Article

Jets Exempt Upper Seats From License

 The New York Times

Richard Sandomir


Link to Article in the New York Times 


August 26, 2008

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Jets threw a populist pass at their fans Tuesday by announcing that season-ticket holders would not have to buy personal seat licenses to the 27,000 seats in the upper deck of the stadium the team is building with the Giants.

But the Jets are also charging higher prices for personal seat licenses than the Giants in other sections of the stadium to raise the funds they say they need to help pay their construction debt on the building, which has a price tag now above $1.6 billion.

“We determined that we had to have seats that had no P.S.L.s,” Woody Johnson, the owner of the Jets, said during a news conference at Giants Stadium. The licenses, or fees for the right to continue to buy season tickets, “are not the most popular thing,” he said.

By exempting nearly a third of the 82,500 seats in the stadium, the Jets took a significantly different tack on seat licenses than the Giants. The Super Bowl champion Giants are charging $1,000 to $5,000 for upper-deck seat licenses that will generate after-tax revenue of nearly $20 million if they sell out as expected.

But the Jets hope to generate significant funds by taking another detour from the Giants’ plan. Instead of selling the 2,113 elite seats in the Coaches Club area behind their bench for $20,000 each, as the Giants are, the Jets will auction them during the fall.

Team officials said all Jets fans, not just those who have season tickets to the sections roughly equivalent to the Coaches Club seats at Giants Stadium, can participate in the auction. Some Giants fans, whose tickets have been in their families for decades, have said that $20,000 licenses are not affordable and will force them out as season-ticket holders or require them to move to areas with less-expensive licenses.

Kyle Burks, the president of, an online marketplace for tickets and licenses, said the auction would lead to seat licenses’ selling for $25,000 to $70,000. “The Jets are going to displace more people than the Giants will,” he said. “Someone who could afford $25,000 won’t be able to pay $60,000,” he said.

Matthew Higgins, the Jets’ executive vice president for business operations, said: “You can’t predict if more fans will be displaced from an auction or a fixed-price situation. There could be a range of prices, from a lower of the spectrum to the higher end.”

Still, the Coaches Club seat auction will generate extra revenue, beyond the after-tax amounts of $175 million to $185 million the Jets expect from selling their other licenses.

If they average $25,000 each for the auctioned seats, the Jets would reap an extra $29 million.

Beyond the Coaches Club — which in the Giants’ plan is called the Coach’s Club — the Jets have more options than the Giants. And in most cases, they are more expensive.

For example, Jets mezzanine seat licenses will sell for $4,000, $5,000, $7,500, $15,000 and $25,000. In the lower bowl, the prices are $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, and $25,000 for the Great Hall Club seats.

By comparison, the Giants are selling their licenses from $4,000 for end-zone mezzanine seats to $20,000 for the Coach’s Club and the section directly opposite it.

Season tickets for Jets games in 2010 will cost from $95 to $700, and Giants tickets will be $85 to $700. Only one of the Giants’ sections with $20,000 seat license fees — the Coach’s Club — will have $700 tickets. The section opposite it, at the 50-yard line, will have $160 tickets. But the Jets have two sections with $700 tickets: the Coaches Club and the Great Hall Club.

All the Jets’ seats that require licenses come with various amenities, including unlimited food and nonalcoholic beverages in the Coaches Club. Buyers of personal seat licenses will be able to finance their purchases over five years (at a rate described by the Jets as “reasonable”), have the right to buy reserved parking and receive access to non-football events at the stadium (depending on availability), an extra that the Giants are also exploring.

The Jets are selling their seats on a priority basis, based on seniority. The Giants’ system allocates zones in the new building based on fans’ seats at Giants Stadium, and asks for alternatives from fans who prefer a downgrade or upgrade of a license.

“Our research says that for everyone who moves down, someone will move up,” said Thad Sheely, the Jets’ executive vice president for stadium development. He said season-ticket holders would be asked, based on their tenure with the team, if they wanted to bid on the auctioned seats. If they decline, they can move to other positions in the seating chain.

“If you’re assigned a seat,” he said, “if you don’t pick that, you lose your priority and go to the back of the line. If you want to go upstairs, someone else has priority over you.”

Steve Kern, a construction executive from Boonton Township, N.J., who has two Jets season tickets, said, “I’d think fans would want to stay in their exact seats, because groups of fans have friends and camaraderie built in those sections.”

Kern, who organized a small protest against seat licenses outside Giants Stadium last Saturday, added: “My first option would be to stay where I am. Otherwise you’re breaking up lifelong friendships.”

In a letter sent Tuesday to season-ticket holders, Johnson called the team’s fan base “heroic and deeply devoted,” evinced by their sticking with the team “through thick and thin.”

Now, he will find out how hungry they are for his licenses.