Todd Pedersen seems like a nice guy, but some of you are going to hate him.
You will dislike him particularly if you are the kind of Carolina Panther fan who shows up faithfully for every home game at Bank of America Stadium -- and then looks around wondering how so many thousands of the other teams’ fans got tickets.
“Some people may consider me the devil when this story is published,” Pedersen said when we talked on the phone.
Here’s why: Pedersen, a PSL holder since the Panthers’ inaugural 1995 season, commits what some Panther fans believe is the unforgivable sin.
He routinely sells his tickets. And he doesn’t care when they end up in the hands of opposing fans.
Pedersen has already sold his seats for this Sunday’s 1 p.m. home game against Denver for face value (his usual price). They may well end up getting sold again before somebody uses the seats. He figures that Denver fans will probably end up with them but doesn’t know for sure.
Pedersen, 46, just knows that he’s tired of watching the Panthers lose, and he doesn’t feel any obligation to support a team that is 2-6 this season and 10-30 over the past 2 ½ years.
I first ran across Pedersen -- who lives in the Charlotte area and consented to have his full name used for this story -- when he sent me an angry email. Here’s an excerpt:
“As a season-ticket PSL owner since day one, I am tired of the 'culture’. Players and coaches get paid a ton of money to lose, and then after that money is in the bank, they get fired.
“I go to work, demo my product and get paid IF the product ships and the customer is satisfied. It is called the marketplace. And the market corrects itself if the product is poor by rejecting that product.
“So, I sell my tickets to opposing teams’ fans as a way to voice my dissatisfaction with the poor product. It's simply the marketplace stating fact. So, please don't tell me you hate when fans sell their tickets. It's not the fans’ fault. Loyalty is earned. You want a homefield advantage? That starts with the product on the field.”
Pedersen isn’t the only Panther fan who sells his tickets, of course. He’s just the one I chose to give voice to the trend. Did you see the Dallas game? The Panthers’ stadium must have had 20,000 Cowboy fans inside.
“My buddies and I jokingly call our stadium the only neutral site in the NFL,” Pedersen said. (Give the Panthers credit for this, though – they always sell out and thus avoid local TV blackouts. Sunday’s game will mark the Panthers’ 100th straight sellout).
At one point Pedersen owned eight PSLs, he said. Raised in Connecticut, he grew up a New York Giants fan, but came to North Carolina to go to graduate school at Wake Forest and has lived in N.C. since 1992. When the Panthers joined the NFL in 1995, Pedersen said he bought permanent seat licenses (PSLs) and made the long hike to “home” games in Clemson, S.C., that season.
Pedersen says he is now down to two PSLs – lower bowl, corner of one end zone -- and he wouldn’t mind getting rid of those, too. But he said they are very tough to sell.
This year Pedersen has already sold the tickets for all of the Panthers’ regular-season games except the Tampa Bay game. He still considers himself a Carolina fan, but he and his wife have two young children who aren’t terribly into going to the games. Pedersen is on the road a lot during the week for his job selling ultrasound equipment. The family is just as happy to stay at home on Sundays and watch the Panthers on their big-screen TV.
“A game is such a time investment, too,” Pedersen said. “Find a babysitter. Pay the parking. Now I was there for the Panthers’ good years. I’ve only been selling my tickets for the past three years, but in that time I’ve probably sold 70 percent of the home games. And believe me, the people who want to buy aren’t buying them to see the Panthers.”
Pedersen said he would like the Panthers to get good again, and if they did he would start going to games more often. “Even if I sold my own tickets, I could always find more,” he said. “That’s never hard.”
But he feels little current loyalty to these Panthers because they have won so infrequently. Starting with the 2010 season, the Panthers have the NFL’s worst overall record.
“It’s like going to a restaurant every year but the food is always bad,” Pedersen said. “But you want to be a fan of the restaurant, so you’re supposed to just keep going and going. It wouldn’t work in any other business.”
Pedersen doesn’t buy it. Well, actually he buys it but then he sells it.
So Pedersen will keep an eye on the Denver game on TV at home. And when he sees the Bronco jerseys sprinkled throughout the crowd, he won’t feel the least bit guilty.