Press Box Article

 
What a Deal: $30,000 for the Rights to Steelers Season Tickets
 
Post Gazette
Robert Dvorchak
 
Thursday March 4, 2010
 

A new service has been set up to help fans sell and buy Heinz Field seat licenses required to purchase Steelers season tickets.

The team announced it is working with Houston-based STR Marketplace, which has created a website that serves as a clearinghouse of sorts. Season ticket holders who want to unload their seat licenses can list an asking price, and fans who have been waiting for the chance to buy season tickets can see what's available and the price. Five other NFL teams have a similar arrangement with STR Marketplace.

Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement Wednesday that the service "is going to make it easier than ever for our season ticket holders to sell their seat licenses to interested buyers. We are pleased to also offer a secure location for our many loyal fans to search for an opportunity to buy season tickets."

Seat licensing is akin to a deed, which can be sold or transferred. For a fee, a fan pays for the right to purchase tickets. The license is valid for the life of the stadium, and those who want to sell their license -- because of relocation, or a death or other reasons -- are free to do so.

About 45,000 of the 65,000 seats at Heinz Field require a seat license. The fees, imposed as the Steelers left Three Rivers Stadium for their new home, originally ranged from $250 for seats in the upper decks to $2,700 for the choicest seats. The asking prices of licenses for sale, which are governed by market demand, show that the value of some licenses have increased tenfold since the stadium opened in 2001.

Step-by-step instructions for buying, selling and transferring seat licenses are listed on the website at www.strmarketplace.com. Every listing and transaction is confidential and verified by the Steelers.

"It's a safe and easy way for fans who may want to sell and those who are looking for an opportunity to purchase season tickets," said Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett. "The authenticity is guaranteed."

Previously, fans could offer to sell their licenses through classified ads, word of mouth or sites such as eBay.

"It's a way of connecting buyers with sellers," said Marc Ganis of Sportscorp, a Chicago-based consulting company. "It's not really a big trend because there's not really a lot of volume."

A check of the STR Marketplace site showed listings for 104 seat licenses, although some of the listings may be exploratory. The heftiest asking price for a license is $29,999 for seats in Section 141, near the end zone by the open end of the stadium. The least expensive licenses are listed at around $5,000 apiece.

According to the website, each seller must pay a fee of 10 percent of the purchase price, or a minimum of $250. The same percentage or minimum is charged to each buyer. The money covers processing and handling charges, but it was not clear how much money is being made on transactions.

The Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals also offer a similar service through STR Marketplace.

STR Marketplace referred all questions to the Steelers. But in a 2005 article in The Baltimore Sun, STR Marketplace president Kyle Burks said the typical value of a seat license has doubled or tripled since being introduced, while the value in places such as Pittsburgh is 10 times higher than the original price.

But buyer beware. Economists note that values can also fluctuate depending on the vagaries of the free market.

The Carolina Panthers charged seat licenses ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 in 1993, and about 14 NFL teams have some form of seat license. They were started as way for teams to pay for the cost of building or renovating stadiums. In the Cowboys new stadium, it costs $150,000 for a license closest to Jerry Jones' owner's box before any ticket is purchased.