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PSLs may be a good investment, or a bad one

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It’s fitting, we suppose, that a sport featuring a franchise that has made millions selling phony stock certificates also has multiple franchises selling phony seating rights that can become very real investments.

The concept of the Personal Seat License has become popular in the NFL over the last generation, with teams selling not only tickets to games but also the right to sit in the seats that correspond to said tickets. As detailed by Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News, the PSLs can rise and fall in value over time, based in large part on the quality of the product that the home team puts on the field.

In Pittsburgh, PSLs have been resold at 17 times their initial value. In Dallas, where the Cowboys continue to be mired in a one-playoff-win-since-1996 slump, the PSLs to Jerry Jones’ palace in North Dallas are selling now for less than their original price. In Carolina, the success of the Panthers during their first decade of existence pushed the value of the PSLs to triple their starting price. During a 2-14 disaster in 2010, the PSLs were selling for less than their original 1995 price.

Despite the very real possibility of making money, Rosenberg explains that the SEC prohibits teams to advertise PSLs as an investment -- and to include language in the PSL contract in which the buyers acknowledge that they have no expectation of profiting.

Still, that’s precisely what a PSL is. And so the folks in the Bay Area who will be paying anywhere from $2,000 to $80,000 per chair for the privilege/obligation of thereafter buying season tickets every year should understand that, unlike the folks who purchased stock* from the Packers, the PSL represents an ass-in-seat asset that may appreciate or diminish based on whether and to what extent the 49ers flourish or fail in the future.