Press Box Article

 
The Jets Gross $16 Million in a Seat-License Auction

The New York Times

Richard Sandomir
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Jets sold 620 of the 2,028 personal-seat licenses for the Coaches Club section at their new stadium during an eight-day online auction that ended Monday. The auction brought in gross revenue of $16 million, the Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson, said.

“This is a pretty good number, and we’re happy with it,” he said Tuesday by telephone. “Selling 620 seats on StubHub is pretty amazing by any standard, and selling them at an average of $26,000 each proves that there was a public market for them.”
 

Johnson added: “We didn’t set the prices. The public determined them.”

The Jets set a $5,000-a-license minimum and required that buyers purchase at least two to sit in the Coaches Club behind the team’s bench. Johnson refused to say that selling less than a third of the licenses was a disappointment or that the results showed that fans were skittish about the economy.

The Jets consistently marketed the auction (Donald Trump starred in one television commercial) as one for the best 2,000 seats in sports. But they never specifically said they expected to sell all of them or what portion of them would constitute a success. The rest of the Coaches Club licenses will be sold conventionally, at a variety of fixed prices.

The final prices for the auctioned Coaches Club licenses ranged from $10,000 to $82,500 each. The licenses in the section are fees for the right to buy season tickets that will cost fans $700 a game in 2010.

The $26,000 auction average is $1,000 higher than the most expensive price the Jets have set for a seat license outside the Coaches Club.

Kyle Burks, the president of the online ticket broker SeasonTicketRights.com, said the Jets and StubHub mistakenly flooded the market with too many license auctions during the first two days, causing a dilution in prices. He estimated that the oversupply of auctions provided buyers up to 50 percent discounts off the prices the licenses may sell for when the Jets allow owners to sell their licenses on the secondary market in 2011.

The Jets agreed that they had too many early auctions, as many as 140 in a day.

“Putting up that many at once, to close during business hours, didn’t make a lot of sense,” Johnson said. “People couldn’t focus on them and make decisions.”

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The user agreement for bidders allowed changes in the auction-ending times. The Jets defended the change because StubHub used the Pacific time zone, not the Eastern.

“The auctions were closing at 1 in the morning,” said Matthew Higgins, a Jets executive vice president, who said he was unaware of bidder complaints.

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