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  1. #1
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    One more sign that the Apocalypse is upon us

    WSJ

    At Long Last, the Sports Mortgage
    In Lean Times, Teams Try 'Equity Seat Rights' to Raise Money; $220,000 for a Seat at Cal


    By KEVIN CLARK

    For the price of a three-bedroom home with a pool in a leafy suburb, you can now buy something really and truly invaluable. Your own stadium seat.

    Earlier this month, the boards of regents at the University of Kansas and the University of California-Berkeley approved plans to fund stadium expansions and renovations by selling something called "equity seat rights." Fans who are approved for financing can buy their seats and pay for them—with interest, of course—over as long as 50 years. Once the seat is paid for, it's yours, just like a house.

    If this "mortgage" model catches on, it will mark a radical departure from the past, when most new stadiums were financed with a combination of taxpayer dollars, private loans and corporate sponsorships.


    Cal plans to sell about 3,000 seats under the plan and hopes to raise $270 million. The school's best seats cost $175,000 to $220,000 apiece over a 50-year term, while the cheapest sell for $40,000 per seat for a 40-year term. "Without this program, I don't see any way we could secure the funds," said Cal associate athletic director David Rosselli. "We needed a different approach."

    The first professional sports team to try the plan could be Tottenham Hotspur, a London-based English Premier League soccer club that's awaiting government approval to build a new 60,000-seat stadium in pricey North London. The team is currently holding forums with fans to determine what amenities to offer and how much to charge. The mortgage idea is especially attractive In England, where many soccer teams are struggling under large debt loads and where public funding for sports venues is rare.

    "We said to our shareholders and fans that we would look at all sources of finance to bring the project to fruition," said Tottenham Financial Director Matthew Collecott.

    Though the idea may seem preposterous—and even repellent—given the state of the economy, proponents say the plan is actually a boon for serious fans because it allows them to circumvent the annual pain of rising ticket prices. "If you get a letter from your team that they are increasing season ticket prices 10%, it wouldn't make you real happy," said Lou Weisbach, chief executive of the Stadium Capital Financing Group, the Chicago-based subsidiary of Morgan Stanley that's financing these instruments. "If you own an equity seat right for that team, you're thrilled."

    Mr. Weisbach says he came up with the concept in 2004, when he was brought in by the mayor of Las Vegas to work on the city's failed bid for a Major League Baseball team. He says he called a couple of friends into a conference room to brainstorm and together, they came up with an idea: "Why don't we make seats into condominiums?"

    The idea differs significantly from the personal seat licenses that are used in the NFL. With these, fans pay a one-time fee merely for the right to buy season tickets—without price controls. PSLs are also usually applied to every seat in the stadium, while equity seat rights can gain the capital needed with just 5% to 10% of the stadium's premium seats sold long-term.

    During the life of the seat right, the owner can treat it like a house, selling it at a higher price than he paid. The right is tied to the franchise in any venue and would even transfer to a new city if the team moved, though the seat owner could sell in any situation.

    And if you're going to be there for your entire life, you might as well get comfortable—that's why the plan calls for amenities in some stadiums such as Internet access, instant replay TVs in chairs, private clubs and food service.

    For Cal's football team, the program is the light at the end of a fund-raising tunnel. For 25 years, the school had been raising money for a major overhaul of Memorial Stadium. Five years ago, they tapped their donors using traditional fund-raising campaigns, and mustered $125 million; but they needed at least $300 million for the stadium project and knew they could not do it the same way. They can now pay for the overhaul by selling just 3,000 seats into the program.


    The University of Kansas is using the program to fund a 3,000-seat luxury club-level addition to its Memorial Stadium. While its goals are less ambitious than Cal's, Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony believes the school couldn't afford the addition without the program.

    While not called "interest," an annual administrative fee of about 6% is charged on top of the seat price. At Kansas, 30 years' worth of club tickets cost $105,000 per seat, and Kansas's ticket prices become unfrozen after the term ends.

    Stu Gordon, a San Francisco-based lawyer and lifelong Cal fan, bought four equity seats to watch the Golden Bears play. So even though his team lost to Oregon on Saturday, he could still laugh because he has time to see more wins: "I plan on being here for the next 50 years," he said.

    The plan initially had skeptics, but the school says two-thirds of the available seats have been sold—and that the rest could be sold as well.

    Cal's Mr. Rosselli believes the equity plan could be the new model for stadium funds. "Public financing has been a failure for stadiums in the last half- dozen years. I think this is going to be the future of how capital projects are done in sports," he said. "We've got scores of teams researching what we're doing. They'd be on board already if they weren't intimidated by the economy."

    The money isn't restricted to stadium construction. Mr. Weisbach said his company is fielding calls from professional team owners who have financial problems. Some cannot restructure debt or their lines of credit are coming to an end and need capital, Mr. Weisbach said. The company's COO, Richard Magid, said that in the past year, some teams have considered the program as traditional forms of financing have dried up.

    Dennis Howard, a sports finance expert at the University of Oregon, wonders if teams can find enough buyers. "What happens when half or more of the best seats in the house can't be sold under this concept?" he asked.

    Mr. Weisbach remains optimistic. "We had a lot of teams that said, 'Once you get one team, come back to us,' " he said. "And now, we're dealing with a lot of next customers."

    Let's do some livin'
    After, we die

  2. #2
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    I'm done reading financial shit from a guy who as of yesterday had no idea what "double or nothing" means.

    Sorry.

  3. #3
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    Well, it's not really "financial", per se. More sports fanaticism, if I may.

    Hey, Ice, how ya' feeling? Everything OK, considering? Blood replacement is dangerous.

    Let's do some livin'
    After, we die

  4. #4
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    I feel pretty damn good, considering. Still kinda beat up and tired, but better every day. Walked a mile yesterday and do a little more every day now.

    Pretty gassed after the mile, but I didn't walk at all for over a week and today's just the 3-week anniversary of the incident.

    Hope I didn't get any funky blood but there's not a lot I can do at this point.

    Psyched to get the staples out Thursday, sumbitches hurt when you move wrong.

  5. #5
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    Doesn't sound very different than a PSL... except its more expensive. I guess you don't have to pay for your season tickets every year- but is that really worth the trade off in price?

    I'd have to see some examples, but I can't imagine that you'd be building much equity in these with a 50-yr loan.

  6. #6
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    Just imagine the shit storm this is going to cause when they want to replace this stadium in 50 - 75 years.

  7. #7
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    I got a couple of units of blood at the Whistler Clinic. Now I wear a toque and end sentences with "eh".
    Remind me. We'll send him a red cap and a Speedo.

  8. #8
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    Halarious !

    This is similar to the PSI, which the NFL's Houston Texans have(and i'm sure many othe pro teams do as well).

    In Houston, the Texans stadium sits right next to the Astrodome that is not used by any pro team and which Houstonians still owe 38 million on.
    The texans have been around for 7 or 8 years now and have yet to go to the playoffs and look like theyre going backwards this year.

    I work very close to these and laugh my ass off watching people stream in every week, blowing thousand's of dollars on thier PSI. Now, i know as a Houstonian; i'm paying for it too; but i'm not giving thousand's of dollars each year for that junk when it's all on tv everywhere. They say some people are sheep and i say diehard sports fans are the defining example of that. You can watch the texans stink up their stadium every week or be on a mountain, i'll take door number 2.
    Eat em up Houston Cougars !

  9. #9
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    That's an interesting use of the present value of money. Cal is sacrificing 50 years of income from the 3,000 seats for the upfront payment.

    The 6% yearly maintenance fee would piss me off though.
    Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.

  10. #10
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    If I bought a seat I'd randomly show up at like 2:00 a.m. and demand to be let into the stadium so I could sit in my seat.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu Gotz View Post
    That's an interesting use of the present value of money. Cal is sacrificing 50 years of income from the 3,000 seats for the upfront payment.

    The 6% yearly maintenance fee would piss me off though.
    Hmm.... 6% of $200,000 is $12k. I'm assuming that's 6% per year and not 6% over the life of the loan. Another $12k on top of the price of the seat? Ridicurous.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by The AD View Post
    If I bought a seat I'd randomly show up at like 2:00 a.m. and demand to be let into the stadium so I could sit in my seat.
    I guess there's even a newer type financing for stadiums. I was drunk at the last game, and ended up buying a time share to a pair of seats...






    ...It was cheap, but that was the slot I bought... 2am to 5am.
    Screw the net, Surf the backcountry!

  13. #13
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    What would really be apocalyptic is Kal making it to the Rose Bowl.
    Last edited by Viva; 09-29-2009 at 12:52 PM.
    ˇÓrale, vato!

  14. #14
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    The dirty golden bear
    Is losing all his hair
    His teeth are out
    He's got the gout
    He knows not what it's all about
    His eyes are made of glass
    He's losing all his class
    So take the Dirty Golden Bear and shove him up your golden ass

    The dirty golden bear
    Has dirty pubic hair
    His dick is dead
    It's got no head
    He cannot get it up in bed
    He tries to use his hand
    But cannot find his gland
    So you can find him jerking off the uc berkeley band
    "if the city is visibly one of humankind's greatest achievements, its uncontrolled evolution also can lead to desecration of both nature and the human spirit."
    -- Melvin G. Marcus 1979

  15. #15
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    is this another move to price the true fans out the game or is it a good marketing strategy?
    Our world is full of surrender at the first sign of adversity, do not give up when the challenge meets you, meet the challenge. Through perseverance comes the rewards, the rewards that make life so enjoyable.

    Seize the day, trusting little in the future.

    if you want something, go after it. if you want to screw someone over, look DEEP in your heart and realize Karma is a bitch

    http://arcticcycles.com

  16. #16
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    As expensive as sporting events have become, I'm surprised anyone cares anymore.
    Living vicariously through myself.

  17. #17
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    People will always care about sports. They always have. The only thing that will change is which sports they care about.

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