SBJ/May 21-27, 2012/Franchises

Members of Jazz’s 100 Club hold something like a courtside PSL

Jim Olson started at the Utah Jazz as the phone center ticket manager in 1994, and has worked his way up to senior vice president of sales and marketing.

He’s had his hands on everything the team has to sell.

“It’s my 18th season,” Olson said, “and I’ve never had to sell a courtside seat.”

That’s because all but a “handful” of the Jazz’s 140 courtside seats are attached to membership in the 100 Club, set up by owner Larry Miller in 1987 to infuse cash. Members of the club hold the equivalent of a seat license to their locations, meaning they can sell them as they choose. As a result, buyers can land season seats up front without starting in the corner, as they must with many NBA teams — if they’re willing to pony up for a prime spot. Jazz executives have matched sellers with buyers on occasion, Olson said, but financial terms are struck outside of the control of the team.

All courtside seats in Utah sell for about $25,000 for the season, or $850 for a single game, regardless of location. Club 100 PSLs for the best courtside locations have sold for as much as $200,000.

While Salt Lake City lacks the year-round celebrity culture of Los Angeles, New York and Miami, it attracts its share of glitz when the film world gathers for the Sundance Film Festival in nearby Park City each January.

Because courtside seats are held tightly within the 100 Club, the Jazz typically turns to some of the 14 seats controlled by ownership. But at times 100 Club members approach team executives offering to play host. That’s what happened this season, when word spread that Jazz icon Karl Malone would be in town for a game.

“We’d never have a problem finding a spot for Karl [with the Miller family],” Olson said. “But a member caught wind that he was coming and wanted to sit with him. So we put them together. We try to take care of people with things like that.”

— Bill King
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