I know that it won’t be easy trying to sell upwards of 60,000 tickets on short notice in a tough economy for a competition that many of their more “casual” customers might not give a hoot about. It’s also not easy when less than two weeks from the kickoff of the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League Toronto FC has just been given the actual dates for all of the three home games they are going to be playing . They have fifteen days to move tickets for the first match versus FC Dallas.

All of these factors are going to contribute of course to how many people are in the seats for those three games without a doubt. And as a true fan I hope that they succeed in getting as many people into BMO Field as they can. The bigger the crowd the bigger the home field advantage. And I want TFC to have as big a home field advantage as they can.

The ask for the Sales & Service team at TFC is a large one. I wish them all the luck in the world.

What I do not want to see happen is what we saw take place a couple of weeks ago versus Real Esteli in the preliminary qualification stage, namely a stadium well less than half full. That game set a new record for the lowest paid attendance ever for a TFC home game. And the consensus in most quarters is that the pricing for that game was the primary reason for the low turnout.

And to their credit it appears that TFC did indeed look at the pricing structure and it has been adjusted lower across the board. Here is the link with the details: http://www.goltv.ca/assets/1/AssetManager/CCLGroupStagePackage.pdf. The question that will be of course asked is did they go far enough with their pricing to get the stadium filled for these three games? On first blush I applaud them for the progressive moves on pricing but I think that it is not enough of a discount to get the attendance for these matches much over 11-12,000 customers versus the less than 9,000 who paid for the Real Esteli match.

Now of course the bread and butter for any MLS club are the season ticket holders who make up the vast majority of their customer base and the primary source of revenue/profits for the club. In this case I think that the club is operating under some mistaken rationale if they at all think that they are somehow going to devalue the pricing of their MLS season tickets now or going forward when they offer these Champions League matches for a considerably lower price than they have previously. Hence the relatively small discounts on offer I believe.

Another case in point that I think proves the position surrounds the issue of scalping. Only this season when there have been tickets to sell at the box office rather than in previous years has the club done anything significant to try and deal with the scourge of ticket touts.

In my opinion the club truly believes that scalping is beneficial to them when the house is full as a healthy secondary market for TFC tickets creates artificial demand and justifies the prices being offered today or in the future. And if hypothetically next season every seat was sold in advance you would see the scalper crackdown stop in its tracks. Not to be too critical here but how TFC handles the scalping issue tells me that the club is a business and that once they make a business decision they stick to their guns. The bottom line here is that TFC as a business feels that they are probably setting a poor precedent for the future if they offer fans a dirt cheap seat for the Champions League because it shows them lowering prices for once and not raising them.

For me however here is my bottom line. Lowering the prices for the Champions League DOES NOT DEVALUE the MLS product! Empty seats lower the value proposition for any game that they happen to exist in (MLS or CCL for that matter). Every fan in the building for the Real Esteli game probably took at least a second or two to look around and saw the vast stretches of empty seats at BMO Field and probably subconsciously asked themselves if they got hosed on the price they paid. There was too much supply and too little demand last time. And I fear that once again the club has gotten the pricing of these three games wrong, which in reality are probably more important for the immediate future of this team on the field than the remaining five MLS home games are.

I applaud Toronto FC for lowering the prices for these matches from what they were for the first Champions League match last month. However I fear that they have not lowered the prices nearly enough to fill the building the way it could be or for that matter should be.

 

 

7 comments

  1. Mark Skinner

    Birmingham City just announced that their EUROPA LEAGUE games will be priced at 10 GBP each. Convert that to Canadian Dollars and it’s $15.95! TFC pricing is ludicrous! I bet only 6-7 thousand show for these games.

  2. Mighty TFC

    if only 6-7000 show then it shows how many TFC real supporters there are? the rest are part timers like Columbus Crew fans…FACT

  3. Mark Skinner

    Not necessarily. 8 pm kick-off doesn’t bode well for people who travel and/or work early Thursday morning. People with families… just saying. If the games we at 7:30 I could take the GO train and see the WHOLE game and in all it would be 3.5 hour venture. But enough about the GO train…

  4. Mighty TFC,

    Comparing our club to Columbus is comparing apples to oranges. If only 6000-7000 fans do show up for these games, it means the other 14000-15000 have had enough of being gouged by TFC FO. That’s a fact. STH renewals are up in October, so if you’re sitting in the RED section like I do, that means, you gotta dish out over $2k for a couple of seats for next year. Now I’m being asked to pay for $336 for a couple of seats for CCL. I doubt that this is the pricing structure for Columbus.

    I love TFC, but when it hits my bottom line, then I’m not going to blindly support them. If you want to continously see 21000 supporters at BMO, then you might want to compare TFC to the Leafs.

    Unfortunately, I’m not going to the CCL games.

  5. Mikey South End

    Ok… question for you then. This is the 2nd article you’ve blogged about, how TFC fron office has gone about it the wrong way with their pricing. How would you and what price point would you put the tickets at? Honestly, your own opinion. Not compared to what teams in the Europa league are doing, what would you do it at?

    I know you only paid $15 a seat per game. Cheaper than you seasons per game is it not? I know my $17 per game in 111 is cheaper than my season seat packaege on a per game basis.

    So, is it the general public price? Again, still cheaper than face value on any normally priced match throughout the season. The biggest problem lies withing Ticketmaster. A $26 ticket becomes $34-$36. Is that TFC’s fault? No. Nothing they can do about it. But for such volumes of tickets, they don’t have much at their disposal in terms of an agency that can handle the kind of volumes that their venue can hold.

    There is far more to it than just some random price picked out at slightly less than our average price. It’s not just black and white and as simple as it seems,

    I’m not trying to be an asshole about it, just playing devil’s advocate. Realistically, on paper at least, $26 for a game is a fair price.

  6. @Mikey South End

    Thanks for your comments. My issues are not with the lower end pricing, which to their credit I think TFC got absolutely right. To me the issue is on the higher end. When more than half the seats on offer are for $40 or above, topping out over $70 per match, I simply think that pricing those seats at those rates is a big mistake.

    $26 is okay I guess, but when Seattle for example has prices that top out in the $30 range for the best seats in the house for the same tournament I question the logic of asking over $70 for the best seats at BMO Field for essentially the same product.

  7. After having my pockets fleeced for the partial season package (my last season by the way-single game from now on only) I do not have the cash or the will to fork out again. Brighton have just moved into a new (beautiful) stadium, the top price is 30 quid, beer is 3.50 ($5.00Cdn) for a “real”pint and they play in the second division (well above MLS in my humble opinion). MLSE have out priced themselves and that is sad because it used to be a lot of fun attending the games but all you hear now is “decent game but I feel ripped off”…

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