I realize I’m in the middle of 49er and Raider country here in the Northern San Joaquin Valley this isn’t a blog about the Rams per se but rather the amazing first of it’s kind shrine to football Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kronke is building with 100% private money. Correction, shrine to entertainment. While it will be home to the Los Angeles Rams it will also host huge events year round and be the centerpiece of the Los Angeles Stadium Entertainment District.
Built on a plot of land formerly home to Hollywood Park racetrack, this is an approximately $2.6 Billion development that will include retail shopping, an NFL Network campus, a 6000 seat performing arts venue, condos, public parks, bicycle paths and of course a stadium that will seat 70,000 for football during the regular season and expand to 80,000 for special events like playoff games, the Super Bowl in 2022 and be the site of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2028 return of the Olympics to the city of Los Angeles. The stadium itself will be open air with a hard canopy made of ETFE, a clear plastic material which can be manipulated to shield the crowd from the hot rays of the sun while still letting light in. It will keep the rain out but otherwise let the other elements (breeze, temps) in. It will be the envy of any stadium in any league in the world. As a Rams fan I admit to being a bit of a homer but it’s all true.
If the Houston Astrodome was the 8th Wonder of the World then certainly this will be the “9th Wonder of the World”. Since all the financing is private then this will be built the way most modern stadiums are built… with Personal Seat Licenses. That means, if you want to purchase season tickets to see the Los Angeles Rams or Los Angeles Chargers, you most likely will have to purchase a seat license first. Yes, you’re paying for a license for the right to buy tickets. Hopefully other businesses never catch on, I’d hate to pay for a personal grocery license for the right to buy food or a personal petroleum license for the right to buy gasoline. The Rams are calling them SSL’s however which stands for Stadium Seat Licenses which is a bit of a misnomer since you only have a right to that seat for Rams games. It does come with other amenities though which I’ll touch on it a bit.
According to the Los Angeles Rams website “for the initial phase of Club seats (premium seats in the first two decks), the price range for the accompanying SSLs is $15,000 to $100,000 with a variety of payment options, including short-term installment plans or longer-term financing. All proceeds from SSL sales will go toward the construction of the new stadium.” I am a Rams season ticket holder and because, I got my deposit in during the first 15 minutes when they went on sale back in January of 2016 when the team originally announced the move back to Los Angeles, I happen to be in the first 2000 fans to be able to pick my seat location in the new stadium.
So I was invited by Hans, an extremely polite Club Seating sales professional assigned to my account, to the Rams sales office in Playa Vista to view the live models of the new stadium (pictured above and below) to discuss the details and financing of purchasing club seats. I explained to Hans that I would never be able to afford those seats and would wait until they started to sell seats I thought (fingers crossed) that I could afford. Hans let me know that I needed to attend the first wave of appointments to keep my place in line. I was curious to check everything out anyway so I set the appointment and was able to visit their sales center last Saturday. Hans knew that I would probably not be purchasing club seats but he asked me to keep an open mind. Fair enough.
After a fun 30 minutes of viewing videos intended to get me geeked up for the new season (which did it’s job) and viewing the models we sat down to discuss the SSL’s and financing options. The options included a $100,000 license (per seat) for the best seats in the lower section in an around mid-field. The rest of the club seats in the lower section has an SSL valued at $80,000. A couple of the benefits are 1) a bar that wraps entirely around the stadium exclusively for the $80K and $100K SSL holders full of food and drink that they’d never have to pay an extra dime over the price of their SSL for and premium access to tickets they’d still have to pay for to any events that happen at the stadium. First dibs basically. In the 2nd deck the SSL’s start as low as $15,000 and there is access to exclusive bookend bars but at this level you have to pay as you go for your food and drink. Game tickets, which have to be purchased in addition, are $375 in both decks of club seats. So Hans rightly noted that I’d be most likely to pick the least expensive option and did the math for me. If I took 10 years to pay off my SSL (yes, that’s an option) that for 2 seats I would spend $3000 per year (financed with interest once the stadium opened) plus $7500 for game tickets. For the first 8 years at least that works out to $1050 per game… because you have to purchase tickets for the pre-season too if you’re a season ticket holder. This year and next year I’d just have to pay the $3000 because the stadium doesn’t open until the 2020 season.
The silver lining however, as Hans pointed out, was that no matter how much you spend on your SSL that you get all the money back… eventually… in 50 years. So essentially I’d be paying for an annuity to help them build the stadium to which I (or my descendants) would receive the principal back. To my knowledge that is a first among professional sports franchises. It also makes me feel pretty confident that my Rams won’t be moving back to St. Louis or anywhere else before I’m dead. I joke but it does make me pretty happy. So when Hans went in for the close I let him know that I would now be force to choose between funding my 17 year old daughters college education or purchasing the seats. Had Hans known me better he would have known he could have said something smart-alecky like “you need to get your priorities straight” but he played it cool.
Hans was a great guy and a real pro and I’m looking forward to going back to see him when my target seats on the 10 yard line at the bottom of the upper deck go up for sale because I’m guessing (I’m not rich) that what I’ll be able to afford (fingers crossed).