Bears Claim PSL

The Bears unveiled their Permanent Seat Licenses (PSL) plan Wednesday, which they claim will give loyal season-ticket holders various choices. Although, the PSL might be popular with fans the team is making efforts to smooth the transition.

Only 45% of the 61,500 seats in the new stadium will have a PSL attached, which means roughly 27,500 seats, but the 45 percent that do require a PSL are the best seats in the house. Still, the fewest amount of seats among the nine others in the league that have recently built new facilities.

"The whole idea is to give our fans multiple options and not require every fan to have a PSL," Bears President Ted Phillips said. Unlike the other clubs that have instituted similar systems, the Bears will offer non-PSL seats from goal line to goal line. Those seats will be located along the entire length of the fourth level on the west sideline and in the first and third levels behind each end zone.

The PSLs will be split into 11 different zones ranging in price from $900-$10,000. The most expensive section, called Club One, will consist of only about 600 seats, or less than 1 percent of the total capacity, on the 50-yard line on the east side of the stadium.

Subsequent categories will cost $5,300, $4,500, $4,400, $3,900, $3,700, $2,900, $2,800, $2,700, $1,300 and $900. All current season-ticket holders will receive a 15 percent discount on all price levels, making the range $765-$8,500. With the vast majority of the PSLs averaging about $2,000.

"The options are significant," said Dave Greeley, the Bears' chief marketing officer. "The price ranges are significant. We think we have a plan that works for anybody and everybody."

"From our fans' standpoint, we have wanted to make this program as fair as possible," Phillips said. "We put a strong belief in customer service and giving our fans choices. That's what this program is about. Not only do fans have a variety of pricing options to choose from for PSLs, they can also choose non-PSL season tickets."

The Bears hope to raise $50 million-$60 million through the sale of the PSLs. All of the funds generated will be applied directly to stadium construction. The Bears are contributing $200 million to the $606 Lakefront Improvement Project.

The new stadium, which is scheduled to open on Sept. 28, 2003, would still be in the discussion stage were it not for the PSL program, according to Phillips.

"This project wouldn't have gotten done without PSLs," Phillips said. "It wouldn't have gotten done with a tax increase."

The Bears offer several benefits for 2001 season-ticket holders only if their application and initial payment is received by March 15, including not being required to buy in 2002 at University of Illinois – Champaign and a first priority with 15% discount. Meaning the $900-$10,000 range would become $765-$8500. The team is also offering an interest free payment installment plan, which will be due in three installments: 25 percent on March 15, another 25 percent on Oct. 1 and the final 50 percent on May 1, 2003.

Fans that purchase PSLs will gain permanent, transferable control of their seats. That means they can transfer or even sell their PSLs on a secondary market at a later date.

"This is the first time our fans have had the ability to control their tickets," Phillips said. "The transferability options our Permanent Seat Licenses program has will last for as long as we play in this stadium, 30 years, 50 years, maybe longer. We're proud of that. We wanted to give our fans that kind of flexibility."

"This is a permanent entitlement that our fans are going to get, a right they've never had before," Greeley said.

Brochures detailing the variety of seating plans were mailed to 2001 season-ticket holders February 11. Luxury suites will sell for $70,000 to $300,000 a year, and the different sizes accommodate from 12-32 guests.

The Bears will pay approximately $5 million a year in rent to the Chicago Park District for use of the new stadium, but for the first time they will keep marketing, concession and advertising revenues. According to Phillips, the new lease agreement puts the Bears in the middle of the NFL pack, whereas he characterized the old agreement as one of the league's worst.

FYI
All checks for PSLs should be made out to: "Lakefront Improvement Project."

Ticket prices, which are separate from the one-time PSL charge, will see a sizeable increase. For the past few years, the Bears have been in the lower half in average ticket prices, but for 2003, they will be in the upper quarter. Tickets are expected to range from $315 for Club One seats to $50 for non-PSL end zone seats.

There will be about 8,600 club seats in three different categories. Purchasing a club seat will entitle fans to sit in padded seats that are 21 inches wide, exclusive membership in the Club Lounge, private stadium entrance and restroom areas, first right of refusal to most other events in the new stadium and on-site VIP parking.

In the new stadium, 60 percent of the seats will be on the sidelines as opposed to only 40 percent in the current stadium. In the new seating configuration, all seats are an average of 37 percent closer to the field and sightlines are dramatically improved.


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