The average person, when we hear about the NFL labor disputes and the possibility of a lock out, doesn’t think any farther than trying to figure out how we’ll spend our Sunday afternoons next winter, or how to fill the time we would have spent on fantasy football and related games, or what will advertisers do without Super Sunday? Most of us think of the work stoppage as multi-millionaires and multi-billionaires whining about who deserves more money. Other than irritation, we think the lock out doesn’t affect the fans because with no games, we would simply just not buy tickets.
We think wrong.
Personal Seat Licenses, or PSLs, have taken a lot of heat in recent years for being yet another way to leech money out of fans. They work like this: a fan buys a PSL for his favorite seat at his home team’s stadium. This doesn’t mean he has bought tickets – he has bought the rights to purchase season tickets. He still must buy season tickets every year for this team, or the PSL reverts back to the team ownership. PSLs have become a large source of revenue for teams, enabling them to build a new stadium, or make other investments, without taking any of the traditional ticket sales revenue away from the owners or players. Fans have been vocal, complaining about PSLs since their introduction to the NFL. Ironically, now the PSLs may be the way for fans to have a voice. A lawsuit was filed in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, by Ken Lanci against the Cleveland Browns. Mr. Lanci claims that the lockout has violated his contract with the Browns, a contract that granted him the right to purchase seats and watch the games. Mr. Lanci, who owns 10 PSLs for Cleveland Browns games, is trying to force the Browns (and the 31 other teams in the NFL) to end the lockout so that the fans can buy their tickets, watch the games, and enjoy the rights they paid so highly for when purchasing their PSLs. Until the court decides on this, Mr. Lanci can enjoy neither the anticipation of using his season tickets nor the money he has paid for tickets to see games that may not be played.
Of course, we would be remiss if we failed to mention the irony here. Mr. Lanci is a self-made millionaire. So, now we have added a millionaire to argue with multi-millionaires and billionaires about money. It about makes you want to watch baseball.