Press Box Article


Giants to Charge Seat License Fees for New Stadium


Richard Sandomir

New York Times


June 27, 2008


Less than five months after winning the Super Bowl, the Giants said Thursday that they would charge their fans one-time fees, called personal seat licenses, for every seat in the stadium that they were building with the Jets.


John Mara, the president and co-owner of the Giants, said fans would have to pay $1,000 to $20,000 each for the licenses — the rights to purchase season tickets at the stadium, which was scheduled to open in 2010.


The Jets have not decided on their seat license plan.


The licenses have been marketed since the mid-1990s as a way to let fans feel a sense of ownership in their N.F.L. teams, and as investments that can be sold for a potential profit on the secondary market. Seat licenses have never been used in the New York market and could represent an onerous expense for fans who have been paying increasingly higher ticket prices. Now they are faced with deciding whether they want to pay the extra cost of the licenses in a difficult economy or lose their seats.


“I’d have no problem with $5,000, but $20,000 would be steep,” said John Moss, of Roseland, N.J., who has four tickets in the first row of an end zone at Giants Stadium. “I’m guessing mine would be $5,000.”


Mara said the team was still working out the prices for licenses between $1,000 and $20,000. But he said only 5,000 licenses would sell for $20,000 — half of them club seats — and that 90 percent of the licenses in the upper bowl of the $1.6 billion stadium would sell for $1,000 each.

“We wanted to have a plan that we thought was reasonable and fair and gave us the opportunity to keep everybody from Giants Stadium in the new building and meet our payment requirements,” Mara said during a conference call. “We didn’t go into this to maximize the proceeds.”


The team hopes to bring in between $300 million and $400 million from the licenses. “Roughly half goes to taxes,” Mara said.


Kyle Burks, the president of, a secondary market site that brokers seat licenses, said the Giants were smart to set their prices below market value. “On average, they’re $2,000 to $3,000 less than they could have been, and a lot less in certain areas,” he said.


Mara said that “it would have been impossible” to finance the Giants’ half of the stadium without selling seat licenses. Not only are the Giants and the Jets splitting the cost of the most expensive stadium in the N.F.L., but the league is requiring that they repay their debt faster than even their banks required. Each team received $150 million from the league’s stadium-financing program to defray construction costs.


After proceeds from the seat licenses and the N.F.L. loan, Mara said that about $500 million would remain to be financed from other sources such as revenues from tickets, concessions, sponsorships, naming rights, luxury suites and club seats.


The Jets are at least a few weeks from announcing their plan. Unlike the Giants, the Jets have surveyed season-ticket holders, fans and others on their waiting list about proposed license prices ($500 to $150,000 each), sample payment terms and possible benefits (like membership in a Jets golf club).


Barry Javeline, a Jets fan with a season ticket in the upper deck, said he would not pay $1,000 for a license unless he was assured that his ticket price, once $25 and now $80, would not rise in the new stadium. “If you’re in the football business, you should fund the stadium,” he said. “It’s not my responsibility. Now I have to pay for the right to keep a seat I already pay for?”


The Giants and the Jets, if they advance a plan, would be far from the first teams to use seat licenses to fund their stadium construction. They have been preceded since 1993 by a dozen N.F.L. teams, which together have raised nearly $900 million by selling licenses.


The price has ranged from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 each at the renovated Soldier Field in Chicago. That was topped last year when the Dallas Cowboys started charging up to $150,000 each for the right to lease elite club seats at their new stadium in Arlington, Tex., which is scheduled to open in 2009.


The Cowboys subsequently exempted about 20 percent of the seating bowl from seat licenses and priced the remaining ones at $2,000 to $5,000. No Giants season-ticket holder will be able to escape the purchase of a license.


Bobby Stiso, a Giants fan from Airmont, N.Y., said he was glad to learn that his two upper deck seat licenses would likely cost him $1,000 each. “It’s a doable number,” he said. “But zero would have been better.”


Stiso and all other Giants’ season-ticket holders will soon receive brochures with four seating options and the prices of their licenses and tickets.