Warriors to become first NBA team with broad use of personal seat licenses

Warriors new season ticket requirement a bad sign? (2:09)

Jalen Rose reacts to the Warriors requiring fans to buy 30-year memberships at their new arena in order to purchase season tickets. (2:09)

This story has been corrected. Read below.

The Golden State Warriors are bringing the personal seat license to the NBA.

Officials with the defending NBA champions acknowledged Wednesday that to get season tickets at the team's new privately financed $1 billion Chase Center, which is slated to open in 2019, fans will have to pay a fee for the right to buy those tickets.

While pricing of the licenses has not been revealed, a team official confirmed to ESPN that the number of seats dedicated for season-ticket holders will decrease from the 14,500 currently at Oracle Arena in Oakland to roughly 12,000 at Chase Center in San Francisco. Half of the tickets will come with a per-seat cost of $15,000 or less. The other half would cost more than that.

The Warriors would return the money the fan paid for the right to buy tickets after 30 years. That essentially means the personal seat license, which will be called a "membership," is acting as an interest-free, tax-free loan to the team for three decades.

Fans can transfer or give back the license before the 30 years are up, so they aren't required to commit to the full term, but they won't get their money back until Year 30.

The Toronto Raptors are the only other NBA team with personal seat licenses, which are offered only for their best seats and also include rights for Toronto Maple Leafs tickets. A majority of NFL teams use licenses, however.

The membership will be transferable, but unlike in the NFL, the licenses will not be allowed to be resold for a value above the original price paid minus the years used.

If a fan sells the membership, the team is made aware of the price. If the price falls short of the full price paid less the payments already made, the Warriors will make up the difference at the end of the 30-year period to the original owner.

The Warriors will let fans pay for memberships in installments, though those plans haven't been formalized.

The unique payback program allows the Warriors to resist some local criticism that occurred after the San Francisco 49ers sold seat licenses at up to $80,000 per seat when Levi's Stadium opened in 2014. When the team flopped in recent years, Niners fans felt as if they were no longer getting what they paid for.

Of their current players, the Warriors can only guarantee, at this point, that Stephen Curry and Draymond Green will be under contract in the first year of the Chase Center.

The Warriors probably won't struggle to sell the memberships. They have a season-ticket waiting list of more than 42,000 people who pay a one-time fee of $100.

The only time the NBA had a team establish the equivalent of a personal seat license was 30 years ago, when Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller established a seat license of sorts for courtside season-ticket holders, with the upfront money raised to fund the team's expenses.

The original version of this story omitted that the Raptors offer personal seat licenses for a limited number of seats.