The New York Jets are facing a lawsuit from a group of season ticket holders, filed on Friday in New Jersey. The suit stems from a recent decision by the team to allow season tickets to the mezzanine section at MetLife Stadium to be purchased without Personal Seat Licenses – a decision that current PSL holders in the section argue renders their investment in the licenses “entirely or substantially worthless,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit is a class-action representing a number of fans holding the licenses in the section. It seeks to recoup the license fees paid by individuals who hold an estimated 5,000 seats in the stadium, which is home to both the Jets and New York Giants. Prior to this year, the only way to secure a season ticket was through the purchase of a PSL, which cost attorney Jeffrey Hermann’s client from Connecticut $8,000 for two seats in 2010.
“In essence, the actions of the Jets have offset the value of PSLs,” Hermann said. The lawsuit names the New York Jets LLC and Jets Stadium Development, which co-owns and operates the stadium with the Giants.
Those holding licenses in the mezzanine would continue to receive special access and discounts to exclusive events that the team runs, according to the announcement in January of the updated policy – presumably an attempt to show a continued value for those who sunk thousands into their right to purchase seats that new season ticket purchasers would no longer have to spend. They also have the right to upgrade to lower level season tickets for “no additional fee,” though the seats themselves are more expensive to purchase.
The value of the PSL purchase for Jets fans has not been kind to them, regardless of this new action by the team. After making it to the AFC Championship in the first season of the new building (2010-11), New York has failed to make the playoffs, finishing above .500 only once, in 2015. According to NorthJersey.com, some areas of the stadium have seen PSL values decline from $25,000 in 2009-10 down to $4,500.
Deadspin.com pulled no punches in its analysis of the PSL system related to its coverage of the lawsuit, with the Jets treatment of those who have made the investment as a prime example.
Personal seat licenses are a racket, and a common feature in NFL stadiums. PSLs were instituted across much of the league when the new stadium boom took off around the dawn of this century. They allow teams to offset construction and financing costs by forcing fans into paying a fee just for the right to purchase their season tickets. The conceit for fans is that the licenses belong to them, so they can be sold for whatever price another person might be willing to pay.
…[The Jets] “effectively nuked the value of some fans’ PSLs by offering to sell seats without a license in sections of the stadium that previously required them. The suit accuses the Jets and their affiliated stadium-development company of “an unconscionable commercial practice” by undermining “the fundamental benefit underlying the PSL transaction.”
The Jets have not opted to comment for any stories covering the filing of the lawsuit.