Home Opener Not A Sellout
In this space over the off season there has been a lot of discussion about tickets/attendance and if the shine is off the rose when it comes to Toronto FC and place in this sports market. Today the Toronto Sun published an article that speaks to this issue wherein they reported on what is the apparent availability of significant numbers of tickets for the home opener this Saturday against the Portland Timbers. (You can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/4e6cd9z)
There was no mention in the piece on if they asked the club for a response. So to test the assertion in the article I went on Ticketmaster today and decided to look for the largest number of tickets I could at one time (eight is the Ticketmaster limit) and here below is what I found.
Five days out from the home opener and there are still blocks of tickets available that are at least as large as this one, if not larger. The proof is there on Ticketmaster for all to see.
Listening to the FAN 590 today I heard for the first time (at least to my ears) radio advertising confirming that there are indeed tickets available. I heard radio ads last season for the Voyageurs Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League but never for a regular season game. Those ads are not cheap, especially if they are booked short notice.
Perhaps in a way after all the talk this kind of development is a good thing. I want the club I support to feel the pressure of a fan base that needs convincing. I want them to feel the stress on their profit margins. And I want them to feel a true sense of urgency when it comes to the results or lack thereof on the field.
In a lot of ways up until the last third of last season everything came easy for TFC’s business. The profit margins rose year after year. The stadium was full (or at least the tickets were sold). And the party in the stands was generally still on in spite of the results on the pitch. The end of last season saw all those things end. The club was forced to commit to a price freeze after supporter backlash. The stadium was far from full (for example I saw scalpers on the way to the stadium who could not give away stacks of seats they held). And from certain quarters boos rained down on the team from the stands. The party at BMO Field was definitely over.
There has been a lot of spin coming from the club this year about the new coaching staff and their new approach to building the team going forward. And I for one am more than willing to give Winter and his new staff the benefit of the doubt. However I think many fans are obviously not. If they were there would not be blocks of seats like the aforementioned one in section 104 still available this close to the kick off of the season.
In TFC’s defense the weather forecast might be having an impact on sales. Environment Canada’s long range forecast for Saturday afternoon is calling for a mix of sun and cloud with a low of minus 8 and a high of only plus 1 degree. That may be keeping some fans away. The loss in Vancouver this past weekend is probably not helping matters either. Again it is hard to specifically gauge their respective impacts on ticket sales.
In any case I am expecting to see significant pockets of empty seats on Saturday afternoon. And results and results alone are what it will take to fill them as season five progresses.
What do you think? Your comments are always welcome and appreciated.
Previously the earliest start for Toronto at BMO Field, located on the shore of Lake Ontario, was April 4. The announced attendance for the game was 20,086, which was 1,901 fewer than last year’s home opener (held on April 15).