You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Postseason run could prove ‘super’ for Falcons’ sales in new stadium


Two years into their efforts to sell personal seat licenses for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Atlanta Falcons may have found their most effective sales tactic: a run toward the Super Bowl.

Seat license sales have rallied along with the team’s on-field performance in recent months, rising from less than 33,000 at the start of the season to more than 41,000 now.

Even so, that leaves around 20,000 seats for the Falcons to attempt to sell before the retractable-roof stadium — under construction next to the soon-to-be-demolished Georgia Dome — opens for the start of the 2017 season.

The Falcons had sold 41,102 seat licenses as of late last week, according to Michael Drake, the organization’s senior vice president and chief revenue officer. And the team said it has received a significant number of leads on potential additional sales since defeating Seattle to advance to the NFC championship game.

The Falcons face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the Georgia Dome’s final football game, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. It would be just the second Super Bowl berth in the 51-year history of the Atlanta franchise.

Tom Smith, a professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, whose specialties include the economics of sports, predicted the Falcons will see “a super huge spike” in seat-license sales if they win Sunday.

“If the Falcons win, they’ve got two weeks (before the Super Bowl) to flood the airwaves with more commercials about PSLs,” Smith said. “It’s a huge opportunity … to have people out there pounding the pavement, going to corporate and different entities, saying, ‘Don’t you want a piece of this?’

“It’ll get a boost for sure.”

Personal seat licenses — one-time fees for the right to buy Falcons season tickets over the next 30 years — are a part of the financing plan for the $1.5 billion stadium. PSL prices range from $500 to $45,000, with 10 percent due at time of purchase.

The Falcons’ most recent official sales report to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority was through Nov. 30. At that point, the team had sold 37,455 seat licenses for a total of $190.8 million, according to figures obtained from the state agency through an open-records request.

That included 4,630 club seats for $103.1 million and 32,825 non-club seats for $87.7 million.

The updated figures provided by the Falcons indicate an additional 3,647 seats have been sold.

Through late last week, the Falcons had sold licenses for 5,301 club seats and 35,801 non-club seats, Drake said.

Drake has seen the impact of on-field success on PSL sales before, having helped oversee the San Francisco 49ers’ sales for Levi’s Stadium, which opened in 2014. The 49ers sold out of seats months before the first game in the Santa Clara, Calif., stadium.

“I was fortunate enough in San Francisco that we had an NFC championship game run and a Super Bowl run in the two years leading up to opening,” Drake said.

But he said he is “a little too superstitious” to talk publicly about what a Super Bowl could mean to Falcons sales.

To this point, he said, “the data would tell me” the recent sales boost “has more to do with the football season in general and the urgency of, well, this is the final season in the Georgia Dome.”

Robert Boland, director of the sports administration master’s program at Ohio University, said postseason success stirs sales for pragmatic reasons as well as emotional ones.

If fans perceive their team’s tickets will be in high demand, as is generally the case with championship-type teams, “more people feel forced to lock in with season tickets rather than buy games on the a la carte market,” Boland said.

The $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium will have 71,000 seats, and all seats sold as Falcons season tickets will require a PSL.

The Falcons haven’t said how many seats are in the PSL inventory, but after excluding seats that are part of sponsorship deals, in suites or held out for group sales and other purposes, the number of sellable seats to the general public is believed to be around 61,000.

“That number is moving around as we continue to do sponsorship deals,” Drake said. “It’s not quite that much, but somewhere in that range.”

Since the Falcons began PSL sales in January 2015, some long-time season-ticket holders have said they are being priced out of their seats, especially in prime locations in the lower bowl.

“What makes some people frustrated is having to buy an option to buy a seat,” Emory’s Smith said. “I don’t know that a playoff run makes that more palatable, but I imagine that for some people it might.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Freeney to become unrestricted free agent
Freeney to become unrestricted free agent

Former Falcons defensive end Dwight Freeney is set to enter free agency again. Freeney, 37, wants to play a 16th season in the NFL, according to a USA Today sports report, which cites an unnamed source. Freeney played 415 defensive snaps (37.4 percent) for the Falcons last season and had three sacks in the season and one in the playoffs. He was credited...
Watson must win over critics at scouting combine
Watson must win over critics at scouting combine

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, the pride of Gainesville, will be one of the most scrutinized players at the NFL scouting combine, which starts Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Despite his big-time pedigree and his leading the Tigers to the national championship, there are several scouting questions about Watson and his ability...
Falcons head for scouting combine
Falcons head for scouting combine

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and general manger Thomas Dimitroff will lead the team’s coaching and scouting entourage to the NFL Scouting Combine which starts on Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. This has been fertile ground lately for the franchise. It was at last year’s combine that the Falcons laid the ground work for the...
Police: Raven’s safety Matt Elam arrested with drugs, cash, jewels in Miami Beach
Police: Raven’s safety Matt Elam arrested with drugs, cash, jewels in Miami Beach

Baltimore Raven’s safety Matt Elam was arrested on drug charges Saturday night in Miami Beach, Miami-Dade police said. The 2013 first-round draft pick is facing a series of drug possession charges, including possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, possession with intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance. Elam, 25 and a native...
Vote: Who stays or goes on Falcons’ offense
Vote: Who stays or goes on Falcons’ offense

The Atlanta Falcons reached the 2017 Super Bowl with a roster that included an offensive line that remained intact through the entire regular season. With free agency and the NFL Draft approaching the team has decisions to make on a number of free agents and underperforming players. Look through the 2016 Super Bowl Atlanta Falcons' offensive roster...
More Stories