A well-known New York Giants fan, state Assemblyman and Bayonne Councilman Anthony Chiappone said he was shocked when he learned about a plan by the team to charge season ticket holders extra money to help pay the cost of constructing a new stadium.
Long time fans are being asked to pay up to $20,000 extra for the right to purchase season tickets, not including the actual cost of the tickets.
The Giants are the first team in New Jersey to begin selling what is called a “personal seat license,” but not the first football team to charge such fees. But Chiappone said the fees the Giants are seeking far exceed similar fees charged by teams such as the Washington Redskins.
He said he believes that if the fees are not challenged here, it will set a pattern for other sports franchises throughout New Jersey and hurt the most loyal of fans.
In a release to the press, New York Giants President John Mara said the additional fees were designed to help cover the cost of the new $1.6 billion building they will co-own with the New York Jets.
The Jets announced last week that they would also be selling PSLs, as well.
Those seeking to purchase season tickets in 2010 on the new stadium’s premium 5,000 seats will have to pay a fee that ranges from $1,000 to $20,000, depending on how desirable the location. Ticket prices throughout the stadium range from $85 to $700.
The $20,000 fee has a time limit of 20 years, Chiappone said.
“This means that someone purchasing them right now will have to do it again in 20 years,” he said. “In Philadelphia, fans are asked to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for their PSL. But they also get a discount on the tickets. This is not the case with the Giants. Fans have to pay for the PSLs and full price for each ticket. We are talking about eight games a year that last maybe four hours each game.”
A spokesperson for the New York Giants, however, said Chiappone was wrong on this point.
“A PSL gives the owner the right to his/her seat for as long as the Giants play football in the new stadium…the only requirement is that the PSL holder purchase season tickets to that seat every year, said Giants spokesperson, Pat Hanlon.
The sale of PSLs is expected to generate about $370 million toward the total cost of construction.
Big Blue collar?
Chiappone said this concerned him on several levels.
“The Giants have always been a blue collar team,” Chiappone said. “But now working people won’t be able to afford to buy seasons tickets, only corporations [will].”
One of the first official acts Chiappone conducted when returning to the state Assembly this year was to officially honor the Giants for the team’s victory in the Super Bowl. This resulted in an invitation to attend a ceremony conducted at the White House by President George W. Bush.
“Everybody knows I’m a fan of the Giants,” Chiappone said. “But I’m very concerned about this, partly because if the Giants do this, other teams may decide to do the same thing.”
He said the change of rules isn’t fair to fans who have been purchasing season tickets for generations, and who are now being asked to pay for the construction of a stadium that is already subsidized heavily by taxpayer dollars.
“This is being built on land leased to the Giants by the state,” he said.
Chiappone introduced a bill into the state Assembly on July 10 that would set strict limits on PSLs, and he has asked other governmental agencies to look into the practice to see if it violates state or federal tax regulations.
Chiappone acknowledges the need for the Giants to raise revenue to cover construction costs, but suggested that the team’s ownership look into selling off naming rights and leasing billboards before asking the most loyal of Giants fans to cough up more.
“If the Giants were building their new stadium on private land and not getting any subsidies from the state, I’d say they could do what they want,” he said. “But the state owns the land, and the National Football League is tax-exempt.”
Chiappone also made it clear that he is not doing this for himself.
“I am not a season ticket holder, but I know a number of people who are,” he said. “They are the ones who bought tickets and attended games year in and year out, often when the Giants were a losing franchise. I’m doing this for them.”