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Falcons early PSL sales blow projections 'out of the water'
Falcons PSLs Football Heal
Workers construct the Mercedes Benz Stadium, the future home of the Atlanta Falcons, Thursday, in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Personal seat license sales for the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium have surpassed expectations set by the firm handling the process for the team.

That doesn't mean all fans have been won over by the pitch to pay big money for the right to purchase season tickets.

Ricky Burroughs, who had been a season-ticket holder since 1990, said Thursday he turned down the chance to keep his seats when Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens in 2017.

"The best seat in the house is at the house, you know?" Burroughs said.

Many fans, however, don't share Burroughs' viewpoint and have jumped on board.

Michael Drake, vice president of the Legends Global Sales firm handling the PSL process for the team, said the first-year results surpassed expectations based on his previous projects with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys.

"Coming from these other projects, you have some guesses or projections of where we'll end up in the relocation process," Drake said. "We blew those out of the water here."

According to figures obtained by The Associated Press in an open records request from the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the Falcons sold 26,617 PSLs for $153,798,000 in the first year of sales.

That includes 2,259 club seats for $93,520,000 and 22,358 non-club seats for $60,278,000. The Falcons have received $21,715,428 in down payments.

Drake said the figures refute the theory that Atlanta would be a difficult market to introduce PSLs.

"I got here two years ago and I started hearing the chatter 'Oh, it's a unique market and a transient market,'" Drake said. "I've got to tell you I totally disagree with it."

Diana Murphy of Atlanta said she was initially wary of the new fee but was won over by what she said is a good investment. She said she was "shocked" to learn the PSLs for the upper-deck corner seats she now has at the Georgia Dome were only $500, so she upgraded to $2,000 licenses for upper-deck seats on the 50-yard line.

"If I'd stayed in the same section, I was surprised the entry level price was lower than had been broadcast," Murphy said.

Dawn Beslisle of Atlanta said she was against the idea of PSLs at first, but the sales pitch for the new retractable-roof stadium changed her mind.

"When I went in and got the tour of what the new stadium would look like and the new offerings, I couldn't resist," Beslisle said.

"It was just the entire feel. They're just trying to make it a little more of an upscale experience as compared to the dome we're in now."

Murphy said she likes the idea of owning first rights to buy tickets for other events at the new stadium.

"Some people are saying they'll be paying for their Falcons tickets by selling tickets to other events," Murphy said.

For Burroughs, who runs a barber shop on the square in Covington, Georgia, the perks that go with the new stadium were not enough to win him over.

"The older you get, the more you don't want to go," Burroughs said. "That was basically my decision. I had a couple tickets I had to give away every week. People just lost interest."

After focusing first-year sales on current season-ticket holders, Drake said sales now have been extended to new customers.

"We built a substantial wait list of people who are interested and we have referral programs where we go to friends of current seat holders," Drake said.

The current sales cover about 40 percent of the seats at the new stadium, excluding suites. Drake said he expects the other seats to be sold before the 2017 opener.

"I can tell you at the rate we're going we'll have a building with every seat sold by opening, and if not then we're very close," he said. "I would expect that we get to the opening and there's not a seat to be had."