Ticket Rage Hits The WhitecapsNovember 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.