Raiders’ success in selling Las Vegas tickets makes some uneasy

One thing we’ve learned about Raider Nation as it builds its relationship with Southern Nevada: It’s fiercely loyal.

You can see it in the passion of many fans in Oakland, who are still in disbelief that the team would leave the Bay Area for the desert. Some have rooted against almost every aspect of the construction of a $1.8 billion Las Vegas stadium in blog posts, tweets and emails to the Review-Journal.

And, you can see it in the willingness of the high-end market to spend between $20,000 and $75,000 for the right to buy a single premium club seat in the 65,000-seat facility scheduled to open for the 2020 season.

The revenue generated by the sale of personal seat licenses for the stadium will go a long way toward the Raiders’ nearly $1.1 billion contribution to construction costs. Between loans secured by the team and PSL and other revenues, the Raiders will more than surpass the $750 million public investment covered by an increase in Clark County’s room tax.

A very conservative estimate of the personal seat license revenue for the 8,000 premium club seats — assuming every seat is priced at the low end of $20,000 — totals $160 million. And that’s for just 12 percent of the 65,000 seats in the stadium. Prices have not been released for the next batch of seats, which go on sale Tuesday, but it’s clear that the team is off to a good start in its Las Vegas financial plan.

The team is walking a tightrope of success.

Executives are thrilled that sales are going so well — top-tier seats are nearly sold out, according to a team representative. But it would be unseemly if team leaders started bragging about it.

That tightrope of success also has generated some anger among some local fans.

Several fans who were scheduled for appointments to finalize their ticket purchases, only to have those meetings canceled by the team, have called the Review-Journal to vent their frustration.

Team officials say cancellations happened because sales went better than expected.

After the earliest sales began, callers accused the team of prioritizing out-of-town fans by letting them buy before locals. Non-residents are far more likely to purchase seats as an investment, the callers said, and profit by reselling their tickets on secondary markets.

Team executives said they did so because they felt they had an obligation to let longtime loyal season ticket holders in Oakland shift their team loyalty to Las Vegas — which, incidentally, also would make local tourism enterprises smile.

As it turned out, the majority of ticket buyers are locals. A team representative said 73 percent of the premium seat buyers have Nevada addresses.

Another group of local fans also are disappointed — by the sticker shock of PSLs.

Frank Nails of Las Vegas made his $100 deposit for tickets last year, aiming to buy four club-level seats.

When Nails, who said he coached Raider greats David Humm and Frank Hawkins in his younger days, learned that he would have to fork over $80,000 — not counting the cost of tickets — he was sickened.

“I was excited for the Raiders to come here and still am, but costs are way out of my range,” he said in an email. “So, it’s general admission or the couch for retired coaches.”

Another fan, Jeff Peterson, a former Las Vegas resident who now lives in North Carolina, said he plans to buy two club seats.

The investment, he said, will probably drive him back to Las Vegas, a city he loves even more than he did after seeing how the presence of professional sports has changed it.

“It’s amazing what sports can do for a city,” Peterson said. “Just look at what the Vegas Golden Knights did for it. … I knew when the Raiders were coming, I wanted to somehow be a part of it.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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