Final 49ers Santa Clara Stadium Builder Licenses Announced June 8, 2012

All of the seats in the new Santa Clara 49ers stadium are now available to existing Candlestick season ticket holders, and as promised, they all require a Stadium Builder License. That's the bad news. The good news is that they are no longer calling them Stadium Builder Licenses. At least the San Jose Mercury News, the good good friend of the San Francisco 49ers isn't. They are now called either "seat fees", "license fees" or "one-time fees". Stadium Builder License lets the buyer know they are helping to fund a billion dollar stadium. But, what if buyers become unhappy that a team worth a billion dollars, owned by a billionaire is asking fans to pay the largest share of the stadium costs which are funneled tax free to the team via the Santa Clara Stadium Authority? Well, then clearly it's time to retire Stadium Builder License as a term and move on to seat fee, license fee and one-time fee.

Stadium Builder Licenses and Season Ticket Prices
2nd and final group released 6/8/2012
SectionSBLSeason Tickets for
10 games (2 preseason)
1st deck east side
15 to 30 yd line
1st deck corners$6,000$1,500
1st deck endzone$6,000$1,250
2nd deck corners$6,000$1,200
2nd deck endzone$5,000$1,000
3rd deck (mini) sideline$4,000$1,000
3rd deck (mini) corners$2,000$950
3rd deck (mini) endzone$2,000$850
4th deck sideline$2,000$950
4th deck corners$2,000$850

The San Jose Mercury News warns fans that only "very limited" amounts of tickets will be available on a per game basis, being sold by season ticket holders. They also warn that those prices will go for more than the per-game season ticket holder price, and claim that on third-party sites they could go for well over face value. However, a 49ers fan who posts as "Duckfan" on their message board studied the situation with Dallas Cowboys tickets on and found that StubHub prices for Cowboys games in their new stadium (financed with Personal Seat Licenses) went for below face value. 2012 prices for new Dallas Cowboys stadium prices for Cowboys tickets 6/10/2012:

StubHub Cowboys Tickets - 6/10/2012
TeamDatePrices From:Amount
Rams preseason8/25/2012$1.5011,171
Dolphins preseason8/29/2012$1.5011,179
New Orleans12/23/2012$3611,127

In addition to individual game tickets, also shows 766 Dallas Cowboys 2012 season tickets available from $399.88 on 6/10/2012.

Non-Season Ticket Holders now Eligible to Help Pay for 49ers Stadium

The San Francisco 49ers are reporting that $310 million dollars has been raised from existing season ticket holders and 10,000 non-season ticket holders who paid $100 to be on a waiting list for a chance to help pay for the new Santa Clara stadium. As of October 1st, 2012, 52% of the available Stadium Builder Licenses have been sold. Now the 49ers are giving everyone else a chance to contribute. Interested parties can contact the team's marketing firm and arrange for a meeting with a sales rep to view a model of the stadium and discuss contribution options

San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara stadium Stadium Builder Licenses

empty red stadium seats

The San Francisco 49ers (Forty Niners) have said that every seat in the new Santa Clara stadium will require a Stadium Builder License (SBL) fee be paid before a season ticket will be sold. The first announced SBLs are for the 9,000 best seats in the stadium (club seats) and go for

Less than 1% of tickets sold will be $80,000 club seats, but they come with extra perks:

The 49ers will finance the SBL price with a down payment of 10% and a loan term of 10 years. However, they are charging an interest rate of 8.5% which compares unfavorably with average current Home Equity loan rates of 5.91% (30K) and 5.61% (75K) and Home Equity Line of Credit loans of 4.61% (30K) and 4.27% (50K) and average 15 year mortgage rates of 3.15% as reported by on 3/11/2012.

When the Oakland Coliseum was enhanced for the return of the Raiders from LA, it was partially financed by the sale of what were called Personal Seat Licenses (PSL), equivalent to SBLs. In fact, Personal Seat License is the more common terminology for a stadium construction fee levied on an NFL season ticket holder to pay for a new or upgraded stadium.

The sale of SBLs has been contracted to Legends Sales & Marketing, a subsidiary of Legends Hospitality Holding Company LLC. All SBL proceeds will go to the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, the legal entity created by the city of Santa Clara for financial protection, which is the official owner of the stadium. In fact, the payment of SBL funds to the Stadium Authority is one of the big reasons for the City of Santa Clara being involved, as it saves the San Francisco 49ers $200 million in income taxes. The term of the SBL is the life of the stadium, which is a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 60 years. The purchaser of an SBL will be able to resell it to another party should they decide not to buy season tickets some time in the future.

price markdown

Will Seat Licenses go away or go down for Some Seats?

In their New Jersey stadium, the New York Jets (unlike the New York Giants who share the stadium) did not sell seat licenses for the 27,000 seats in the upper bowl. And when their lower bowl seats hadn't sold out 3 months before the 2010 season was to begin, they reduced some seat licenses in order to avoid TV blackouts.

New York Jets Personal Seat License (PSL) Reductions
SectionOriginal PriceReduced Price
4 sections lower sideline$15,000$10,000
10 sections lower endzone$5,000$2,500
10 sections mezzanine endzone B$4,000$2,500

The seat license reductions were for areas with 18,000 seats total, half of which were unsold. So if 49ers season ticket holders were to balk at the current pricing scheme they just might end up getting a price reduction before the first game is played.

Stadium Builder Licenses to bring in Half a Billion Dollars?

The San Jose Business Journal reports the San Francisco 49ers gave a presentation to Goldman Sachs that included a slide which showed $500 million coming from the sale of seat licenses. This would put the Santa Clara San Francisco 49ers seat license revenue as the 2nd highest in history for a team behind the $600 million raised for Dallas Cowboys stadium. However, the shared Jets/Giants stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey is said to have raised around $400 million per team for a total of $800 million for the stadium. Cowboys seat licenses sold from $16,000 to $150,000 and for Met Life stadium in New Jersey they were $1,000 to $30,000.

As of the February 13th meeting with Goldman Sachs, the 49ers were reported to have already sold $79 million of Stadium Builder Licenses which only began selling 5 weeks earlier on January 8th, 2012. The total amount of seat license sales possible just from the 9,000 club seats is north of $180 million (9000 times the cheapest club SBL price of $20,000).

What about a Refund if the Stadium isn't built?

The Santa Clara Stadium DDA, an agreement between the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and Forty Niners Stadium, LLC, says in Section 9.2 that in the event the stadium isn't built, a Stadium Builder License buyers' recourse "shall be limited to the termination of the SBL and the refund of any funds advanced by the holder of the SBL".

Seat Licenses are fairly recent

The first use of a personal seat license to finance a new pro stadium in the United States was by the Carolina Panthers in 1993. The program was extremely successful - all seat licenses were sold in one day. However, the Carolina Panthers accepted the seat license money directly which meant that the $187 million taken in was taxed as income, leaving $122 million after tax. Since then pro teams have used city stadium authoritys as tax shelters (e.g. Santa Clara Stadium Authority). The stadium authority is the recipient of the seat license money, but as they are non-taxaxable pseudo-entites, no income taxes are paid on the seat licenses. An exception would be Giants/Jets stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey which is unique among NFL stadiums - it is privately owned (although the public did contribute $400 million for road improvements and a new rail link and $100 million to retire debt from the old stadium).

When will non-Club seat season tickets and Stadium Builder Licenses be available?

In a March 17, 2012 article the San Jose Mercury News reported that approximately 50,000 non-Club SBLs will go on sale sometime in June, 2012.

49ers season ticket holder David Langtry

49ers Season Ticket Holders lament SBLs

A front page San Jose Mercury News article for Tuesday, January 31, 2012 has quotes from several long time San Francisco 49ers season ticket holders who are lamenting that they will likely not be able to help pay for the new stadium via the Stadium Builder License (SBL) program. If they don't commit to buying a Santa Clara San Francisco 49ers Stadium Builder License for the new stadium's "reasonably comparable" seat, by March 16th, they will lose their existing seats and have to put down a $500 deposit and wait in line behind other season ticket holders for seats in cheaper areas of the stadium. The "club seats" being sold now are from $20,000 to $80,000 dollars per seat.

But the son of the San Franciso 49ers billionaire owner, team CEO John Edward "Jed" York, says it could be worse. According to York, the current market would have supported selling seat licenses for over $100,000 but the team chose not to do so. Jed York is apparently quite a salesman. He makes a personal pitch several times a week to prospective SBL purchasers, and was recently able to convince Bob Kinney, who is from a family that have been season ticket holders since the 1940's (Kezar Stadium), to buy two $20,000 seats when he couldn't afford the two $80,000 seats that were the equivalent to his Candlestick Park seats.

Season Ticket Prices Going Up

Comparison of Candlestick Park season ticket prices to Santa Clara San Francisco 49ers stadium
Note: Sections in new stadium have more rows
Stick LocationSC LocationCandlestickSanta ClaraSeat License (SBL)
First section
between 40s
First section
50 yard line
$1,790 $3,750 $80,000
First 4 sections (Visitors side) and
first three sections (Home side)
between end zones
First 2 sections
between 30s (Visitors)
between 25s (Home)
$1,290 $3,500 $30,000
First two sections
end zone
3rd section between end zone
First two sections 10 to 25 (Home)
2nd section between
end zones (Visitors)
$990 $3,250 $20,000

Note that with the new stadium season tickets the club seats are priced much closer together on a percentage basis than their Candlestick Park equivalents. The increment is 8% then 7% going from cheapest to most expensive (15% total). The Candlestick equivalent increment is 30% and then 39% (80% total).

The StubHub Solution

For those 49ers season ticket holders who are thinking they might not be able to afford to help pay for the new stadium, there may be a cheaper solution. One 49er fan who posts on their message board as "Duckfan" has studied StubHub single game ticket prices for Dallas Cowboys games and says tickets in 2011 could be had all over the stadium for less than what season ticket holders are paying per game. And those are season ticket holders who also had to buy seat licenses.

The Home Theatre Solution

A 49ers club seat season ticket holder could use the 40,000, 60,000 or 160,000 dollars they would have spent on a pair of Stadium Builder Licenses, and instead buy a 64 or 65 inch TV from Best Buy ($3000 to $4000), a Bose Home Entertainment System ($2699.99) and still have money left over for several overseas vacations and/or a new car.

The "R" Word

40 year 49ers season ticket holder David Langtry (pictured above right) even voiced the previously unthinkable. He is considering switching to being an Oakland Raiders fan after the new stadium is built. The 49ers might not mind though, since they will be courting the Raiders to sub lease the stadium from them. And if that happens, the 49ers will no doubt want their tenant, the Oakland Raiders, to sell a lot of tickets to fans like Langtry for the games the Raiders play in the 49ers Santa Clara stadium.

apple pie slice with whipped cream

The American Dream

The long time 49ers season ticket holders upset that the club seat licenses will price them out of season tickets in a good part of the stadium, need to keep in mind one of the most precious of modern American Dreams - a billionaire using public funds and public ownership to both construct a private playground for the rich and powerful, and also protect them from having to pay large amounts of property and income taxes. And when the billionaire can't get all the funds to construct a new stadium from the public, he or she must then look to season ticket holders.