Jan. 28, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Charlotte took the next step toward adding a football program Wednesday by unveiling the payment structure and tiers for its permanent seat license program.

School officials will begin collecting money Thursday in hopes of raising $10 million toward the $45 million cost to start a team to begin play in the 2013 season.

"We are thrilled with the amount of support our fans have shown over the past few months for 49ers football," athletic director Judy Rose said. "Reservations for 49ers seat licenses have been robust and we are extremely excited to begin actual sales and thrilled to offer a variety of options to all of our fans."

The plan calls for selling up to 7,500 seat licenses, with 5,500 of those costing $1,000 per seat. Better seats, located near midfield and requiring an annual donation to the school's athletic fund, will cost $2,500 per seat license. The school also hopes to sell 200 high-end seats for well-heeled donors for an undetermined amount.

Charlotte's board of trustees voted in November to start a program that would begin play at the lower-tier Football Championship Subdivision if enough money can be raised. The hope is to eventually move to highest level of Division I.

The school received commitments for 5,400 personal seat licenses at $1,000 a pop, but now they must start collecting the money during a severe recession. Fans will be able to pay in four installments over the next four years, with the first payment due upon purchase.

"I feel very confident with the list," said Mike Hummer, director of the school's athletic foundation. "We've stayed in contact with them."

With 22,000 students, Charlotte is one of the largest schools in the country without football. The school is known for its basketball team, which made the Final Four in 1977 behind Cedric Maxwell, and currently competes in the non-football Atlantic 10 Conference.

Even if the school can sell all the seat licenses, it still must find large corporate or individual sponsors to secure enough money to start a team. The school wants to build a 15,000-seat on-campus stadium, but might have to first play at Charlotte's Memorial Stadium.

The school has set up a Web site, www.charlotte49erfootball.com, that gives details on the tiers and payment structure.

Fans who purchase seat licenses will then be required to buy season tickets. Seat licenses will be transferrable.