Advanced technology for television viewers could put downward pressure on ticket prices and facility attendance, Wells Fargo Securities said in a municipal commentary. But the investment bank also called stadium revenue bonds relatively safe investments.
"To be sure, we are in the early innings of this dynamic with game-day attendance figures showing resiliency despite choppy economic conditions," New York senior analyst Randy Gerardes wrote. "Nevertheless, we believe demand elasticity for the in-person game-day experience will increase."
Gerardes called for a long-term view of stadium finance, which he admitted is difficult given the immediacy the often surrounds professional sports.
The report came shortly after the technologically enhanced telecast of Super Bowl XLVII. During the playoffs leading up to it, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the need to improve the stadium experience for ticket-holding fans.
Gerardes said fans still buy tickets to games but cut back on other spending. "You've got high costs out there relative to income. That's got to create some downward pressure on ticket prices. People are cutting back on ancillary services while still finding a way to enjoy the ultimate content," he said in an interview.
"They'll go to the Yankees game but not buy that large soda. They'll take Metro-North instead of driving, and if they drive, they'll park for free at the nearby mall and not at the stadium garages," Gerardes said in an interview.
According to a security filing, the parking garages surrounding Yankee Stadium in New York will lack the reserves next year to pay investors holding about $240 million of tax-exempt debt. With the combined average occupancy at the garages at only 43%, principal and interest payments to bondholders next year total $15 million, almost double the available cash to repay investors Bronx Parking Development Co. said last fall. The next payment is due April 1.
Gerardes said that regardless of individual team records from year to year, stadiums and arenas overall have performed well.
"We agree stadium revenue bonds can certainly be controversial and are suitable for sophisticated investors who have the monitoring capabilities to manage these investments," he wrote. "However, in our view, the financings that have gotten into trouble have largely surrounded the risk allocation and revenue expectations of public sector partners rather than revenue performance of the facility."