Photo: Rich Barnes (Getty)

Personal seat licenses are a racket, and a common feature in NFL stadiums. PSLs were instituted across much of the league when the new stadium boom took off around the dawn of this century. They allow teams to offset construction and financing costs by forcing fans into paying a fee just for the right to purchase their season tickets. The conceit for fans is that the licenses belong to them, so they can be sold for whatever price another person might be willing to pay.

A class-action lawsuit filed this morning in Bergen County (N.J.) Superior Court alleges that the New York Jets effectively nuked the value of some fans’ PSLs by offering to sell seats without a license in sections of the stadium that previously required them. The suit accuses the Jets and their affiliated stadium-development company of “an unconscionable commercial practice” by undermining “the fundamental benefit underlying the PSL transaction.”

For years, the Jets have required fans to purchase PSLs in the lower (100) and mezzanine (200) levels in order to acquire season tickets. James T. Gengo of Trumbull, Conn., says in the suit that he purchased two mezzanine-level season tickets at the new Meadowlands in August 2010, in advance of the team’s first season there. Those 200-level seats required the purchase of a PSL at $4,000 a pop, which meant Gengo had to shell out $8,000 before he even paid for any of his tickets. To complete the purchase, Gengo financed that amount at 8 percent interest across 15 years.

In January of this year, per the suit, the Jets informed Gengo that season tickets in his section would be for sale to the public without a PSL. This presented a great opportunity for fans who might want to buy mezzanine-level Jets season tickets without having to cough up the dough for PSLs, but the move makes Gengo’s licenses effectively worthless.

The Jets stopped requiring PSLs in the end zone areas of the mezzanine level to boost sales. The team did dangle a sweetener to ticketholders in the mezzanine level by offering an upgrade to the lower level at no additional PSL cost. Additionally, the Jets have reduced mezzanine-level ticket prices from $130 to $95 for 2018, and the lower-level tickets can now be had for $115. Fans with PSLs still have the option to renew or transfer their season tickets, rights the team does not grant to fans without PSLs.

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A Jets spokesperson declined to comment.

The suit estimates that more than 1,000 people who purchased 200-level seats with the PSL requirement before Jan. 1, 2018, may be affected. It accuses the Jets of one count each of breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and violations of the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty And Notice Act.

Gengo and the class plaintiffs seek a rescission of their PSL agreements, including the price paid for the PSLs, plus interest and attorneys fees. The suit can be found below.

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