A Brief History of Premium Seating

In this ALSD special presentation, industry leaders examine the history of all types of premium seating, as well as offer predictions for the next year, five years, and ten years in the venue marketplace. Where we’ve been determines where we are going.


Premium seating in sports and entertainment dates back 2,000 years when the emperor and his entourage watched, from the best seats in the Roman Colosseum, bloodsport matches pitting overmatched gladiators against lions, tigers, and each other.

Minus the death and carnage, the essence of premium seats remains the same today. The customer has always been king, or emperor, and always will be. This past is prologue.

At the 29th Annual ALSD Conference and Tradeshow, the ALSD sat down with six industry veterans for a look back at the origin story of premium seating in the modern arena to learn how that history provides insights into our future.

These documentarians begin at the seminal formation of premium seating as we understand it today. In the beginning, confusion reigned. No one knew what to build, how to price it, or how to service it. Simply stated, no one knew what they were doing.

But thanks to visionary venues like The Forum, Palace of Auburn Hills, Target Center, and RCA Dome, a new industry was born in the late-1980’s, one that exploded throughout the 1990’s and early aughts, corrected and went private for a period, and is now on the cusp of a new generation of stadiums and arenas comprised entirely of 24/7 premium experiences with suites outfitted like offices, clubs like casinos, and entertainment districts like entire cities where every fan is emperor for the day.

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