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HBO sits down with John Mara to talk PSLs

(Credit: Watchdog)

Click below for more excerpts from Tuesday night's "Real Sports" episode on PSLs in particular and rising ticket prices in general.

Why? Because HBO keeps sending this stuff, and I'm on vacation and don't feel like watching the entire review DVD I received today.

Yo, Jets, what about your PSL plan? Don't get too cute with this and wait until the Friday afternoon before Labor Day weekend to announce it.

The Giants did it on a Thursday.Bryant Gumbel : “In the Giants case, they’re not only raising ticket prices, they're also charging a one-time fee for a “Personal Seat License”, or PSL. What that means is that every season ticket holder, without exception, will have to pay thousands of extra dollars just for the right to buy their tickets.”

John Mara: “I'll be honest about it. I have had some pretty tough mail over the last few weeks, since we announced this program. And that's never easy to have to read.”

Bryant Gumbel: “Let's take a look at a guy now, who's got two seats in your mezzanine, okay. And the seats alone have risen to the point where they're costing him a total of let's say $2,000, $2,200 a year, okay. How much does he expect to pay for a PSL?”

John Mara: “The PSL is $12,500 for a mid-field mezzanine, and the ticket price is $500.”

Bryant Gumbel: “What do you say to that guy who says, ‘Hey, you know what? I was stretching the family budget anyway to make the $2,200 for the seats. Now, you want twelve-five, I just can't do that.’ ”

John Mara: “We've had a few people say that to us. And what we've said is, "Come into our sales office, and let's sit down and let's show you the different plans that we have, the different seating options that we have. And let's see if we can find one that makes sense for you, that you're happy with because we want to keep you in the building.’ We’ve got ten different pricing levels, starting at $1,000 and going up to a maximum of $20,000.”

Bryant Gumbel: “But, bottom line, he's going to have to pay a PSL?”

John Mara: “Yes, he will.”

Bryant Gumbel: “Why do the Giants need a new stadium?”

John Mara: “If you look at the other teams in our league, just look at the NFC East for example. Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas, they're all either in new buildings, or about to go into new buildings where they control the revenue streams.”

“We would have been fine for the next three or four years, but there would have come a point where it would have been a competitive disadvantage for us.”

Mark Rosentraub is a sports economist who has tracked the explosion in sports ticket prices.

BRYANT GUMBEL: “So when a John Mara says -- ‘Our aim has always been to keep as many people as we had before in the building. We'll move you around,’ he's being honest.”

MARK ROSENTRAUB: “He's being honest. And he's also sitting with a waiting list, so why should he worry about you? Why would he not price it higher and move you around? Now, the PSL is a huge risk.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: For?

MARK ROSENTRAUB: “For the fan. Because basically, what you're buying into is that -- you're buying into the future's market. That the value of an NFL ticket will not decline over time. You've taken the risk away from the owner.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “Is that a good bet?”

MARK ROSENTRAUB: ‘It is a bad bet for fans.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: Why?

MARK ROSENTRAUB: “Because there is, in pricing, always, a bubble. It's kind of like the real estate bubble.”

BRYANT GUMBEL: “Sure.”

MARK ROSENTRAUB: “We didn't know when you'd hit too high a price. When corporations will say, ‘You know what? Our profits weren't so high last year. We can't afford this amount.’ But if you're locked in on a PSL, you can't get out.”

Tags: hbo , jets

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