Rams could have the most expensive seat in America

The $2.6-billion stadium Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood will be the world’s costliest venue with a ticket pricing plan that would offer the most expensive seats in NFL history.

According to a document obtained by The Times, the highest priced personal seat licenses for Rams games could range from $175,000 to $225,000 per seat. It would far eclipse the $150,000 PSLs offered by the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

The license only entitles the owner to purchase a Rams season ticket after paying the one-time fee, which in a first for the NFL will be refundable — without interest — after 50 years. The buyer must then purchase a game ticket with the best club seats tentatively priced between $350 and $400 a game. The PSL can be sold to another party with permission from the Rams, a standard practice in the league.

A Chargers spokesman said the team hasn’t set a PSL program, but the team expects the majority of seats at the stadium will require “some kind of seat license.”

People familiar with the Rams’ document cautioned the numbers are still being reviewed for the stadium scheduled to open in 2020. The Rams surveyed season-ticket holders over the summer to fine-tune the pricing structure and gauge interest in price ranges similar to those in the document.

The Gibson Dunn law firm filed the 30-page document with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year on behalf of the company, LA Fan Club, Inc., which will sell the licenses for the Rams. It provides the most detailed look to date of the proposed program the Rams have not yet made public.

It gives a pricing range for the licenses and season tickets, but not the individual tiers. The lowest-priced licenses require a deposit of $500 with tickets at $50 a game. The cheaper licenses are expected to make up a significant portion of the seats.

PSL is the common name for the licenses, but the Rams will call them “stadium seat licenses.” Each seat requires its own license.

Virtually all of the stadium’s 70,240 seats (about 5,000 are for suites) will require seat licenses, although licenses won’t be required for standing-room tickets. The document projects 80% of the PSL revenue will come from club seats, which make up 25% of the seats in the program. Despite the price range in the document, the most expensive club seats are expected to be closer to $175,000 when prices are final, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.

The NFL’s three newest stadiums priced the licenses much lower: Atlanta ($45,000), Minnesota ($9,500) and San Francisco ($80,000). About half of the NFL’s teams use PSLs or something similar to finance their stadium.

“There’s a lot of money in the marketplace, but just as people were shocked at how low the ticket prices were at the L.A. Coliseum, I think they’re in for an awakening on the other end of the spectrum,” said Marc Ganis, president and founder of SportsCorp, a Chicago-based sports business consulting.

While the document says the licenses could raise between $800 million and $1 billion for the Rams, the estimate is believed to include all licenses potentially sold by the Rams and their tenant, the Chargers. The Chargers aren’t mentioned in the document, but the team has discussed using the Fan Club membership structure.

The lease arrangement between the Rams and Chargers doesn’t mandate either team offer seat licenses or require them to be priced at a certain level. All of the money goes to stadium construction.

“We continue to make progress constructing our transformational stadium,” Kevin Demoff, chief operating officer of the Rams, said in a statement. “As part of that process, we continue to study ticketing options for our fans with hopes of going on sale later this season.”

The Fan Club structure the Rams will use, expected to be unveiled this fall, is unique. No professional sports team is believed to have used a similar model.

The SEC filing made clear that this is not to be treated as an investment.

“Such a benefit would be ancillary, at best, to the fan’s primary motivation in buying a FanClub PSL Membership, which is to obtain priority access to season and playoff tickets for Rams games,” the document said.

The Fan Club, which won’t determine seat license or ticket pricing, is a nonprofit company operated by a third party to sell the licenses. Kroenke and immediate family members won’t have any ownership or voting interest in the company.

It will loan the proceeds to Stadco LA, LLC, a Kroenke-controlled entity funding the stadium.

An initiation fee of about $50 will be required to join the club, which will offer benefits like NFL draft parties and limited-edition merchandise.

The structure, approved earlier this year by the Internal Revenue Service, allows both the Rams and their fans to avoid paying taxes on the seat licenses.

“It’s a novel approach, to say the least,” said Dr. Nathan Oestreich, an accounting professor at San Diego State. “It’s unique, it’s clever.”

The document cautions that seat license holders shouldn’t expect to profit from them and, in fact, they “would lose money as a result of this transaction.”

Stadco has spent $1.1 billion on the stadium through May of this year, according to the document, and the stadium’s lifespan is expected to “greatly exceed” 50 years.

Times staff writer Dan Woike contributed to this report.

nathan.fenno@latimes.com

Twitter: @nathanfenno

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