Press Box Article

Despite record, Texans ticket holders see strong ROI

Houston Business Journal
Mark Yost

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The Houston Texans may have had the worst record in the NFL in 2013, but their season-ticket holders have something to cheer about.

The value of a Texans personal seat license, or PSL — the one-time fee that fans pay for the right to buy their seats — has risen by more than 800 percent in some instances. 

According to the Texans, the price for a PSL to sit in the Bull Pen, the Texans premier end zone seating, have risen the most, from just $600 when they first went on sale in 2002, to more than $5,600 today, a gain of more than 840 percent. The price of a PSL for a Field Level Prime I seat has risen about 400 percent from the original price of $3,900 to more than $20,000 based on PSL sales over the past six months. The smallest increase in Texans PSL prices has been in the Gridiron Midfield, where prices have gone up by just 95 percent from $1,500 in 2002 to $2,900 today.

PSLs have been controversial since they were first introduced by the Carolina Panthers in 1993.  Basically, teams charge the ticket-holder a one-time fee for the right to buy tickets.  Think of it as similar to your health club or country club initiation fee.  But with PSLs, ticket holders retain the right to sell their PSL on the secondary market.  So, for instance, if I'm a Texans season-ticket holder and I want to sell my seats to Houston Business Editor in Chief Candace Beeke, she has to pay me for my PSL.  The seating rights are sold on a secondary market by firms like STR Marketplace, based here in Houston that handles PSL sales for the Texans, San Francisco Giants and Texas Motor Speedway.  Many professional sports teams have marketed PSLs as "investments," but just like stocks and bonds, they don't always go up.

The return on investment that Texans fans have seen is similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose fans have seen their PSLs increase eightfold since Heinz Field opened 11 years ago, according to STR Marketplace, a website that processes secondary market PSL sales, including those for the Texans.  But Texans fans are doing better than Ravens fans in Baltimore, who only saw their PSLs rise about 250 percent, and Chicago Bears fans who've only seen their one-time seat-licensing fee double. 

"In overall value, the Texans are in the top tier of teams," said Preston Hill, president of STR Marketplace.

This, of course, begs the question:  Did the value of the Texans PSLs drop after the 2-14 season?

"Not at all," Hill said.  "That's the most unique factor about it.  We've actually been looking at it since they had such a bad season and it hasn't gone down.  Average values in the past six months have actually gone up.  So it's clear that the fan base believes that the team can still do well."

All good news for fans who already have Texans season tickets.  For those that want them - the 24,000 people on the Texans' waiting list - it'll cost them more.