News Column

Ritzy Seats at 49ers New Stadium Almost Sold Out

Jan 31, 2013

Mike Rosenberg, San Jose Mercury News

Jim Harbaugh

At a whopping $80,000 apiece, the priciest seats in the San Francisco 49ers' new Silicon Valley stadium get you exclusive access to stand behind coach Jim Harbaugh during home games as well as tickets to see the Niners play in the Super Bowl on Sunday. And wealthy Bay Area fans can't buy them fast enough.

As Niners fever reaches its apex just days before the big game, the team said Wednesday it has sold 95 percent of the 900 primo club seats that are the second most expensive in all of U.S. sports, behind only the $150,000 seats at the Dallas Cowboys' new sports palace. The 49ers' final few dozen $80,000 seats are expected to sell out within weeks.

The team has sold $68 million in seat licenses for its priciest section at the 50-yard line, which equals about half the 49ers' current player payroll. That may come as a surprise to some fans who laughed or rolled their eyes when the team one year ago released seat prices, which can compare to the cost of a house in some states.

Other NFL stadiums have opened without selling all of their priciest seats -- most recently, the New York Giants' and Jets' MetLife Stadium in 2009 -- yet the new Santa Clara stadium is still a year and a half away from opening.

"Once the Niners went on the run, we certainly saw a spike in sales," said Al Guido, who is leading the team's sales effort. But "the 49ers have an extremely passionate fan base, and that dates back prior to this run."

Unlike

at Candlestick Park, fans who buy season tickets at the new stadium must first purchase a one-time seat license, which ranges from $2,000 to $30,000 for most seats, plus season tickets that cost from $875 to $3,500 annually.

But there are two special sections, on opposite sides of the 50-yard line, where seat licenses cost $80,000 apiece, plus $3,750 a year. Those seats come with free food, drinks and parking; access to exclusive club areas, and even passes that allow fans to roam the sidelines behind players during games.

The seats also come with the right to buy face-value tickets to Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans -- and any other Super Bowl the Niners make. That's ticked off some longtime season-ticket holders who weren't selected to get face-value tickets.

"It favors the rich is what it does. Not everybody can afford $80,000 seats," said Martinez resident Lisa Rebrovich, 43, whose family has had 49ers season tickets back to the Kezar Stadium days and has reserved midlevel seats in the new stadium. She and her fiance spent $5,200 to buy a pair of Super Bowl tickets on StubHub, more than twice the face value.

"It's just really unfair," Rebrovich said. "It irritates me

because we go to all the games."

Guido said most of the people who bought the $80,000 seats are existing season-ticket holders, as opposed to corporations or new fans, though some of those longtime ticket holders are business executives.

Overall, as reported last fall, well more than half the seats in the 49ers' new home field have sold out, producing hundreds of millions of dollars to pay back Santa Clara's public bank loan taken out to start building the $1.2 billion stadium last April. The Niners pocket the revenue from season tickets as well as the money spent to buy suites, which cost $150,000 to $500,000 and are also nearly sold out.