Falcons raise suite/club seat prices 4% for 2011

Super suite now costs upwards of $288,000.
Falcons faithful hoping to watch the team extend its winning ways next season will have to pay up.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which oversees operations at the Georgia Dome, agreed on Tuesday to raise the price for season club seats and suites by 4 percent for next season.
The move means a single club season ticket in section 200, for instance, will cost $1,839 next fall, instead of the $1,768 price tag last year or the $1,700 in fall 2009.  An entire super suite can cost $288,000.
Falcons President Rich McKay said the team renewed every suite that was up for renewal in 2010 and hopes to do the same in 2011. He said the team tried to make the increase reasonable, raising suites and seat prices just slightly higher than the 2 percent to 3 percent hike in regular season seats.
"We're trying to be sensitive to where people are in the economy," he said.
Bob Hope, president of Hope-Beckham Public Relations, said the price increase is not out of line.
"Four percent in some cases is almost sort of a basic cost of living increase," he said. "I don't think this is unexpected."
The new pricing comes just two years after the Falcons struggled to fill suites in 2009, despite having finished a strong season. Falcons officials said in January of that year that club seats were selling slowly because of the economy. Some businesses pulled back to avoid being seen as spending lavishly during a time of deep cuts.
In some cases, the GWCCA and the Falcons lowered the cost of seats over the previous year to make them more attractive.
Selling suites and premium seats is crucial to the bottom lines of the Falcons and the Dome. Preferred seating, from the comfortable, roomy club seats to the plush boxes complete with private bars and bath, are huge money-makers in pro sports. They sell for thousands of dollars and are usually locked in for years.
Businesses buy them to have some of the best seats in the stadium and to entertain clients, family and friends. Suites also help boost food and beverage sales, which are high profit drivers for the Dome.
McKay said the team's three back-to-back winning seasons will make the sales job easier.
"It definitely helps if the franchise is moving in the right direction," he said.
Hope said businesses will probably be more amenable to club seats and suites today as the economy has begun to improve, consumers confidence has picked up and layoffs have subsided.
"Sports is a good way to build relationships" in business, he said.

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