TITANS TECH: Titans House, the preview center marketing New Nissan Stadium, runs heavy on technology as the Tennessee Titans ramp up their ticket sales campaign. (Courtesy team)

First NFL team to sell seat licenses for two new venues

Titans House, the Tennessee Titans’ preview center that opened this month, takes the extra step in brand activation by taking note of Nashville’s rich musical heritage for marketing their new $2 billion NFL stadium.

Guitar strings embedded in the entryway floor and a closing room decorated with platinum records on the wall,  showcasing special moments in Titans history are two design touches paying homage to Music City.

The preview center also marks a new twist on selling personal seat licenses, the one-time fees that fans pay for the right to buy season tickets.

In the 30 years since PSLs took root in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, the Titans stand out as the first NFL team to move from one stadium financed in part by PSL revenue to a newer stadium connected to the same business model.

As a result, they’re providing current PSL holders with a credit equal to the fee they bought for their original seat license at Nissan Stadium, which opened in 1999, which will be applied toward purchasing PSLS for New Nissan Stadium, which opens in 2027.

The PSL credit is another first in the NFL, according to Jim Rice, the Titans’ vice president of ticket sales.

“The main reason we’re doing that is because team owner Amy Adams Strunk wanted to make sure we’re taking care of our season-ticket holders,” he said. “We’re in a unique position and it’s important that we give them a credit.”

For PSL holders aging out, so to speak, the Titans will allow those fans to transfer the seat licenses to their children and grandchildren to get the credit. Those family members would have to purchase PSLs in their name moving forward, Rice said.

Ticketing experts say the PSL credit is a novel concept that makes sense for the Titans due in part to Nashville being one of the smallest NFL markets with a more conservative fan base without deep pockets to pay twice for seat licenses.

“It’s an interesting precedent and it’s fair; it’s a full credit,” said Bernie Mullin, a ticketing consultant and former NBA team executive. “I’m not aware of anybody having done it before. There’s been transfers, but certainly not this to my knowledge. It’s a shrewd move and I would imagine it would be well received and work pretty well.”

Overall, it could potentially serve as a new model for other NFL teams such as the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns, as they pursue new stadiums and make the transition palatable for existing season-ticket holders that would otherwise be hit up twice for the right to buy tickets, they said.

Both teams sold PSLs for reconstructing Soldier Field, which reopened in 2003, and building new Cleveland Browns Stadium, which opened in 1999, the same year as Nissan Stadium. These days, new NFL stadiums cost about $2 billion to build, depending on the market.

CENTER STAGE: New Nissan Stadium, shown here in a rendering, will feature multiple premium seat products, unlike the Titans’ current facility. (Courtesy team)

In Nashville, for New Nissan Stadium, PSLs run $750 to $75,000 a seat. About 40% of all PSLs are expected to be priced under $3,500, with more than 30 price points to choose from, said Titans spokesperson Kate Guerra.

By comparison, the cost to buy a PSL for the 2024 season at Nissan Stadium runs from $250 to $12,000 a seat.

About 70% of the current building is tied to PSLs, compared with 85% for the new facility, said Guerra said.

For the 2024 season, all PSLs available for sale in the club and loge level, the upper deck and behind the end zones in the lower bowl are priced under $3,500. Guerra said those who buy seat PSLs for the coming season can still earn a credit toward purchasing seat licenses and get priority status for setting up appointments at Titans House.

New Nissan Stadium will have 60,000 capacity, which is about 9,000 fewer seats than the current building. Premium seats account for 10% of the new stadium, connected to the most expensive PSLs.

“The current stadium is basically seats and suites,” Rice said. “The new stadium is completely different. We’re going to be introducing products in this market that it’s never seen before.”

Chris Gallagher, president and chief revenue officer for Quantum Sports and Entertainment Group and a ticket sales veteran whose experience includes stints with the Miami Dolphins and the Browns, where he served as vice president of ticket sales and service, is familiar with the Nashville market.

From 2019 to 2022, Gallagher sold premium seats leading up to the opening of Geodis Park, the home of Major League Soccer’s Nashville SC, and among that league’s biggest facilities with 30,000 capacity. As part of the sales process for Nashville SC, Gallagher recalls visiting with Titans PSL holders that held midfield seats at the current stadium and they told him they were bracing for a big increase in pricing for New Nissan Stadium.

PITCH PERFECT: Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk, whose quote is framed in Titans House, felt it was important to provide PSL credits to existing season-ticket holders. (Courtesy team)

“From a customer service standpoint, it’s a logical move,” Gallagher said. “My assumption is these PSLs for the new stadium are going to be quite a bit more expensive. You’ve got a fan base that’s already intact and (the idea is) ‘let’s see if we can give them a break.'”

In general, PSL campaigns can be a tricky issue for NFL teams, so in that respect, it’s a smart move by the Titans, said Jason Gonella, the United Football League’s senior vice president of ticket sales. In years past, Gonella led PSL and premium seat sales efforts for U.S. Bank Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field.

If executed correctly, the marketing tool can raise a big chunk of money to help pay for stadium construction. The Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Las Vegas Raiders, for example, all generated between $530 million to $600 million in PSL revenue to construct AT&T Stadium, Levi’s Stadium and Allegiant Stadium.

Over the past five years, the Los Angeles Rams put their own spin on PSLs, offering a refundable deposit for fans buying seat licenses, although they will not receive that refund until 50 years after their purchase.

“I’m sure (the Titans) model is slightly less aggressive than Los Angeles,” Gonella said. “They want to make sure they’re bending over backwards to get all the people they already have in the (current) building. It’s not terribly dissimilar from what the Rams did where they return the interest to you on the back end. It’s sort of a reverse model. It’s a smart idea.”

The Titans’ credit offer will ultimately lead to those PSLs holding more value as a tradeable asset, Gonella said, because it’s more of a fan-friendly approach. The long term value is to make the seat license affordable and sellable.

“You look at markets like Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas and even New York with the Jets and Giants — the PSLs aren’t really worth much on the resale market from an upside perspective,” he said. “I’m not sure the most aggressive approach is the best approach in a sport like the NFL.”

IN THE HOUSE: The Titans are selling PSLs and premium seats internally, unlike other NFL teams marketing new stadiums. (Courtesy team)

Titans House, an 11,000-square-foot retrofit in a historical brick building in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, is situated between Nissan Stadium, the NFL team’s current home, and their practice facility. It’s the newest example of preview centers that big league teams spend seven-figure sums to sell premium seats and sponsorships, two to three years ahead of their new facility openings and renovations.

Technology takes center stage at preview centers to give season-ticket holders and potential new buyers a sneak peek behind the curtain of what the completed product will look like when the building is completed. An LED ribbon board can be personalized with the potential buyer’s name on display.  A video screen that takes up an entire wall shows a hype video to set the mood. Another screen points out that new stadium seats will be situated 38% closer to the field than the current building. Every fixed seat is padded, a first in the NFL, Rice said.

The Titans will have 30 to 35 people working at Titans House, most of which will focus on selling PSLs and premium seats. They’re doing it all in-house, without an agency, a departure from what most other NFL teams have done to market new stadiums. Elevate Sports Ventures helped with the design of the preview center and participates in bi-weekly calls to make suggestions for how to maximize sales, Rice said.

“We’ve done a good job of building relationships with our season-ticket holders and felt it was in our best interests that to represent Nashville well, we need to keep it in-house,” he said.

The Titans are starting out slow at the preview center, scheduling 10 to 15 appointments a day, eventually increasing that number to 80 to 100 appointments a day over the next two to three years.

“We want to make sure the technology works and the booking calendar can handle it and there’s no issues along the way,” Rice said. “The goal is to have it open until we sell out, which ideally is sometime in 2026.”