Ticket Rage Hits The Whitecaps

November 6, 2010 at 6:12 am | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps In MLS | 7 Comments

This week the Whitecaps finally revealed their seating chart and ticket price categories. While I am not surprised at the prices, in some quarters, particularly among the Southsiders fan group, outrage is the emotion of the moment. The Whitecaps had advertised tickets from as low as $319, and many of the Southsiders fan group thought that is what they would be paying. It turns out that it is going to cost, all in, more than $500.00 to get a spot in the new Southside.  This is more than twice the amount the Southside group used to pay at Swangard. Welcome to the big leagues!

All of this is a lesson in life:  we have to watch out what we wish for. I have been wishing for 10 years the Whitecaps would get into Major League Soccer and would move to a better stadium. Now that it is happening I will have to pay for what I wished for: about three times the price of last year’s ticket!

This all presents a problem for the Southsiders leadership and its intrepid president, Mr Knox. Surely he knew this was going to happen, yet he has come out with statements of surprise and outrage.   To think prime seats behind the goal would be the cheapest price in the stadium was perhaps understandable amongst the Southsiders rank and file, but surely not within its leadership, who have developed a co-operative and cozy relationship with the Whitecaps in the hopes they will become the primary fan group of the Whitecaps.

As for the Whitecaps, if they really cared about the Southsiders, they could have helped their political leadership by simply allowing its President to warn people that their desired spot was not going to be the cheapest in the stadium, so they could at least be prepared for the sticker-shock. By taking this approach, the Whitecaps have put the Southsiders leadership in a difficult place, and it looks like the cozy relationship is over. To me it looks a bit like “divide and conquer”. Perhaps the goal is to split the Southsiders up as a group by pricing an element of the Southsiders out of the group.

I tend to think there isn’t a plot to split up the Southsiders. This is about football economics, not politics. Frankly, the seats right behind the goal are some of the most desirable seats in a football ground to the true football fan, so the assumption they should be the cheapest has to be re-examined.  I respect the fact that people have limited budgets for tickets in this insanely expensive town, but the fan cultures of both Seattle and Toronto have demonstrated the experience behind the goal is going to be one of the most sought after fan experiences in North American sports, period.  The Whitecaps know this and figure the seats behind the goal are going to be very attractive to a younger subset of fans who want the true intense football fan experience. The Whitecaps know that experience has a value, and they are taking economic advantage of that fact. While other MLS teams have not yet figured this out, the Whitecaps have, and their business acumen cannot be questioned.

While some true blue Southsiders with purple blood will be well heeled enough to afford the cost, many will struggle to afford the tickets. For the Southsiders this represents a political challenge: does this effectively splinter the group, with a new Southsiders group showing up in the corner, while another stands behind the goal?  This defeats the fundamental purpose of the Southsiders fan group, which was to stay together in one spot as a fan group, BEHIND the goal, not flung off somewhere in the far corner. For its president, this represents a crisis of leadership.  He has not delivered what the Southsiders strived for as a group: a spot behind the goal at the cheapest price in the stadium.  Frankly, and to be fair, this was too much to ask of him in the first place.

For all of us, it is time to sober up, grit our teeth, and pay the prices.  We are not in Kansas anymore.  The fact is, all of us knew that prices were going to go up by at least 100%.   The President and his followers should stay true to their original Southsiders vision.  If the President decides to lead his faithful to the corner, he will be turning his back on what the Southsiders have been at Swangard.  The President should demonstrate leadership and encourage his group to stick to their original vision, grit their teeth, and pay the price, rather than go scurrying off to the corner in a huff.

If he doesn’t do this, a new fan group will form behind the goal and the Southsiders will effectively be replaced as the main Whitecaps fan group.

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7 Comments »

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  1. Perhaps the Whitecaps could have cut the Southsiders some slack. I have stood by their group for quite a while and while I don’t always go along with their antics, especially those smoke bombs, there is no doubt that they have contributed a great deal to the team’s spirit, and on many occasions the team has come down to the Southside to thank them for their support. But these guys (and dolls) are not the suits who will pay big bucks for boxes and so I guess they were not given credit for their past support. Give them a break I say.

    Personally I feel that the switch to MLS is somewhat strange. The quality of the soccer will not be that much better, from what I have seen, but the cost of watching has soared. And wait until the cocessions clasp you to their hearts with outlandish prices. As Whitecapsfan says, we have got what we wished for, and boy are we going to pay the price! This is big business. Welcome to the MLS

    Dunc

  2. I don’t often agree with you, but you’ve hit this one on the head.

    “The President should demonstrate leadership and encourage his group to stick to their original vision, grit their teeth, and pay the price, rather than go scurrying off to the corner in a huff.

    If he doesn’t do this, a new fan group will form behind the goal and the Southsiders will effectively be replaced as the main Whitecaps fan group.”

    I believe this was going to happen anyway. If you consider the number of Southsiders (160 registered) and the number of seats behind the goal (2000-ish?) it was quite ambitious to think they would call the shots at BC Place. The best they can hope for IMO is to have some of their culture get adopted by the new generation of supporters.

    • I would disagree Mr Gones. If you look at Seattle as an example, as the Whitecaps apparently want us to do, their supporters group grew from smaller numbers than the Southsiders to what they are now – one of the best in the MLS. People joined the existing group. They didn’t form a new one.

      I would see no reason why this would not happen here with the Southsiders.

  3. This is the biggest load of tosh I have ever read on this blog.

    Name me one top 25 ground in the world where the supporters pay more to stand/sit behind the goal than they do in the corners…not one.
    The fron office at Whitecaps FC have got this totally wrong by trying to exploit the loyal supporters and the supporters who have created the atmosphere at Swangard for many years.

    You, Mr Blogger have indeed stood behind the goal yourself for many years, but what is your beef with the Southsiders?

    I personally have no problem standing in the corner, just so long as I don’t have to stand next to you.

    • If the Southsiders want to survive, and the current executive wants to survive as its leadership, they had better get some seats behind the goal. I don’t have anything against the Southsiders in particular, I am just being practical.

  4. I’m not a Southsider, nor do I plan to stand with them at BC Place as I’ll hopefully be in the yellow section. Sadly I can no longer afford the midfield seats I had at Swangard.

    I do feel they have been shafted a little though. Considering much of the season is going to be played at Empire, how can the Whitecaps justify charging less for actual seats than cold bleachers?

    The supporters section should have the cheapest seats. Period.

  5. The days of the Whitecaps being ‘cheap’, ‘value’, or ‘family’ entertainment are gone. I’m surprised they even offer a $319 season ticket! As mentioned, you need to be careful what you wish for, and all the more when it comes to entering a new, slick, and much more corporatized league. The Whitecaps are going to be selling the notion that one can experience the ultra or supporters culture behind the net, and as pointed out there is a premium to be paid for that. Remember, for all the talk of continuity of tradition, building a ‘club’ the right way, etc. this current FO is motivated by the premise that this is a 100% new entity and it will be marketed as such. Because of that, you don’t organically grow the supporters section by offering the cheapest seats in the stadium there and hope that something will slowly evolve there. Instead, as with Seattle and TFC, it’s basically a ready-made situation and there will be demand for it. “We need a supporters section — voilla, behind the net, kids. Drop your money in the tin on your way out”


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