Stan Olson answers the frequently asked questions about the Charlotte 49ers' just-released football ticket pricing arrangement, along with other football concerns for the school.
WHAT IS AN FSL? It's short for Forty-Niner Seat License. Purchasing one gives you the right to buy tickets for that seat annually in the future. You will still have to buy game tickets in a season ticket package for each seat.
HOW DOES THE FSL TIER SYSTEM WORK? The Green Tier is based on the chancellor's original requirement that the school receive applications for at least 5,000 FSL's at $1,000 each in order to move forward with football plans. The school has done so, and now has added the Gold Tier.
For up to four Green Tier seats, no contribution to the athletic foundation is required, but your seat location -- between the end zone and the 30 yard line -- can be reassigned each year based on your rank in the 49ers Athletic Foundation. With a $250 contribution annually to the foundation, those four seats can remain the same. If you purchase more than four seats, an annual contribution is required -- $1,500 for five to eight, $2,500 for nine to 12 and $5,000 for 13 to 16.
Gold Tier seating guarantees you a location in the best seats, between the 30 yard lines. FSLs for those seats are $2,500 each, and one to four seats require an athletic foundation donation of $1,500 annually. That increases, with five to eight seats requiring a donation of $2,500; nine to 12 seats, $5,000 and 13 to 16, $8,500.
WHY IS THE PLAN SET UP THAT WAY? To increase revenue — the better seats in most stadiums come at a premium, and it will be so with Charlotte as well. “We have provided another tier for folks who want to have better seats,” said Charlotte athletics director Judy Rose. “It's not unusual for there to be more than one pricing level for better seats. Of course, there's never a bad seat in a 15,000-seat stadium.”
WILL MY FSL BE TAX DEDUCTIBLE? No, but if you make a contribution to the athletic foundation, that is 80 percent tax deductible.
IS THERE A FINANCING PLAN? Yes. Payments can be divided into four annual installments.
HOW WILL SEATING PRIORITY BE DETERMINED? Active Athletic Foundation members as of June 30, 2013, will have their FSLs assigned by rank (based on accumulated Priority Points earned through the foundation) within their tier of purchase. Priority Points are determined by consecutive years of membership in the Athletic Foundation, the amount of your current gift, the total lifetime giving and consecutive years of buying basketball season tickets. A lifetime bonus equal to the total cost of the FSLs will be applied to all active foundation members' accounts.
WHAT IF I SKIP MY ANNUAL CONTRIBUTION OR DON'T BUY TICKETS? If you have a Gold account and skip your contribution, you will be placed in the Green Tier. If you are in the Green Tier, you may lose your location in the tier. If you don't purchase season tickets, you will lose your FSLs.
I'M ON THE RESERVATION LIST. WHAT DO I DO TO ORDER AND PAY FOR MY FSL? You have until Friday, April 3, to complete your purchase by either completing the Charlotte 49ers Seat License Brochure application or by completing the online application at www.charlotte49erfootball.com. That website will be operational on Thursday.
HOW DO I PURCHASE FSLs WITHOUT A RESERVATION? You can complete the purchasing process online and be placed on the FSL waiting list. After April 3, those on that list will have their order validated based on the date they completed the purchasing process. If you are buying at the Gold Tier, though, you may purchase immediately.
CAN I UPGRADE FROM GREEN TO GOLD LATER? Yes, if there are Gold Tier seats available.
CAN I TRANSFER FSLs TO SOMEONE ELSE? All FSLs can be transferred to immediate family members — parents, children, spouse, siblings or grandchildren — at any time, free of charge.
HOW ABOUT TRANSFERRING TO A NON-FAMILY MEMBER? After June 30, 2012, FSLs can be transferred to anyone else by paying a transfer fee of $300 for each account transferred.
HOW DOES CHARLOTTE'S PLAN STACK UP WITH OTHER AREA SCHOOLS? Appalachian State, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) that Charlotte will begin play in, offers tickets between the 40-yard lines for a minimum total contribution of $500 plus the cost of tickets.
At Clemson, a $350 per seat donation to the school's IPTAY foundation plus the $299 cost of a season ticket buys a seat on the 20-yard line. That means that four seats in that area would cost $2,596 annually.
WHERE WILL THE 49ERS PLAY IN 2013? It won't be on-campus, because that stadium has not yet been begun, and the construction timetable remains uncertain. The best bet would be in a refurbished Memorial Stadium, which could seat 24,000 or so for football. “In that case, there would be walk-up sales and sales to the general public,” Rose said, but she added that in a smaller facility and later in the on-campus stadium, there might be no tickets available for the non-FSL-holding public. “But nothing has solidified at this point. A lot of (site) conversations took place before the enconomy turned the way that it did and nobody knows what kind of funding is going to be available.”
WHEN IS THE ON-CAMPUS STADIUM EXPECTED TO OPEN, AND DO I HAVE TO BUY AN FSL TO BUY TICKETS? At this time, the only way to guarantee your right to buy tickets is through an FSL. Should the 49ers initially play in a larger facility, tickets for the public could be available.
CAN I GET MY FSLs IN A BLOCK WITH MY FRIENDS? Yes. But seating location will be based on Athletic Foundation Rank, and individuals who want to sit together will be assigned at the lowest-ranking member of the block on the Prioity Points scale.
CAN I APPLY A COMPANY MATCH TO MY FLSs? No. Because of the ownership and tranferability of the FSL, the purchase is not considered an outright contribution.
HOW WILL THE 15,000 PLANNED SEATS IN THE ON-CAMPUS STADIUM BE DISTRIBUTED? Half of the seats (7,500) will be FSLs. The remainder are expected to be given to students, the visiting team and possibly administration and faculty.
HOW MANY FSLs ARE AVAILABLE? IS THERE A MAXIMUM OR A GOAL? The 7,500 FSLs that are scheduled to be sold include 5,500 in the Green Tier, 1,800 in the Gold Tier and 200 in a White Gold Tier for a select group of seats that would go to corporations or individuals who make large gifts to the program.
SO WHEN DOES CHARLOTTE PLAY NORTH CAROLINA OR N.C. STATE? The 49ers, as we mentioned, will start out playing at the FCS level (63 scholarships), and will face BCS teams (85 scholarships) such as the Tar Heels or Wolfpack only when the latter agree to a game. “We would stay 1-AA indefinitely, at which time a decision would be made based on financial support for moving forward to the next level,” Rose said.
SO WHAT KIND OF BASE WILL THE SCHOOL BE ABLE TO DRAW FROM? According to university officials, Charlotte has 47,000 degreed alumni in the Greater Charlotte Metro area. Of course, many have not been involved in the school's athletics in the past; the basketball program sold 2,500 season tickets this year.