A Look at MLS Supporters Section Season Ticket Prices

Money Tifo

BY BILL REESE
Staff Writer

The 2014 Major League Soccer season is about to kick off, and the front offices of all 19 MLS clubs are ramping up efforts to sell as many new season tickets as they can before opening day.

The fans most likely to have bought or renewed their season tickets are the league’s supporters groups, who generally occupy the stadium’s endline sections and typically pay the lowest season ticket prices — a “reward” for their continued loyalty.

Not all MLS clubs are equal, and as a result, not all season tickets are priced equally. A number of factors — fan demand, on-field performance, and both internal and external economics — contribute to the cost of each plan.

Here’s a breakdown of what supporter groups are paying around the league.

Table 1

Observations:

• DC United continues to pay the highest season ticket prices in the league. They had the dubious honor of having the highest number of losses and highest season ticket price last season as well.

There are two reasons for this. As anyone who has seen a DC game on TV or at RFK Stadium knows, the supporters groups are situated on the sideline at RFK stadium — not on the endline as is the case in just about all other MLS parks. Naturally, the premium vantage point comes with a higher ticket price, a league-high $468. However, there is a “cheaper” option for DC fans; a corner flag section where a season seat costs $360 — a price that would be tied for fourth-highest in the league if counted by itself.

One important thing should be noted; while DC’s season tickets are the highest price for any supporters section, their full-year cost is the lowest for lower-bowl midfield seats. Even Chivas fans pay more to sit at midfield. The other factor for DC’s high ticket price is the high rent DC United pays for playing at RFK Stadium. DC loses roughly $2.5 million every year in rent and other fees paid to the District of Columbia, equal to the salary of a quality Designated Player. Those losses need to be made up somewhere.

Graphic 1

  • The cheapest season ticket in MLS is — unsurprisingly — for Chivas USA at $180. Amazingly, a season ticket for reigning Western Conference Champion Real Salt Lake is only $20 more at $200 — a much smaller gap than the gap between the levels of play on the pitch. True, Utah’s standard of living is not nearly as high as Los Angeles or New York, but RSL has been to two MLS Cup finals, a US Open Cup final and a CONCACAF Champions League final in their brief, successful tenure.
  • LA Galaxy are the only other team besides DC United where the designated supporters section is not the cheapest ticket available. Parts of the StubHub Center upper deck are a bit cheaper than the areas behind the goal. Interestingly, LA Galaxy are currently selling a two-year season ticket plan that is cheaper than buying a plan just for 2014 alone. In a potential nod to the rumored 28-game MLS schedule next season, LA Galaxy’s ticket prices are “per-game” rather than a flat cost for the season.
  • The vast majority of season ticket plans across MLS contain at least one extra game. Those extra games include everything from MLS Cup Playoff, U.S. Open Cup, Canadian Championship, CONCACAF Champions League, and international friendly matches. Three clubs, Colorado, New England, and Seattle, only offer the 17-game MLS regular season in their plan, with no bonus games.

Graphic2

  • The average season ticket price (for designated supporters sections) across the league is $310. The average cost per game is $16.71, with the lowest being a tie between Chivas and RSL ($10 per game) and the highest being for DC United ($26 per game).
  • There are other perks with season ticket membership around the league. Most fans get a scarf, access to a pregame pub, parking discounts, access to an autograph session. Those are fairly standard. Some clubs offer some truly unique incentives. Montreal Impact fans who renewed early had an option of a free away ticket to the match against Canadian rivals Toronto FC. Chivas USA fans (yes, they do exist) get not one, but two free Chivas USA jerseys just for renewing. A number of clubs also give out free subscriptions to the MLS Live digital package as well.

What about other sections of the stadium? It’s not as cut and dry. Each MLS team is different, and their stadiums, local market conditions and other factors make it a bit harder to analyze as a whole.

One thing is hard to argue: generally speaking, MLS tickets are a relative bargain compared to the four established major leagues. This is little consolation to the fan on a budget, but the league’s games remain remarkably affordable, especially for the supporters groups.

27 Comments

  1. prizby

    02/28/2014 at 4:12 pm

    most TFC supporters renewed at $190 Canadian; new SSH had to pay $285; where you come off at $342, I haven’t a clue, but I can guarantee you that is nowhere near close to the average price for Toronto fans.

    • Dave Martinez

      02/28/2014 at 6:16 pm

      Just edited the piece for the sake of accuracy. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Anonymous

    02/28/2014 at 6:21 pm

    I’m a chivas usa season seat holder and now they are changing the price of my sideline tickets section 108 from 324 to 534 80% increase way to thank fans for years of terrible performances

    • @ReeseCommaBill

      02/28/2014 at 6:23 pm

      Yeah, I was really surprised to see that. Not like the ushers would do a damn thing about it. I came out to the RBNY game in August and just strolled on down to the midway line four rows from the field.

  3. pedro

    02/28/2014 at 6:22 pm

    I’m a chivas usa season seat holder and now they are changing the price of my sideline tickets section 108 from 324 to 534 80% increase way to thank fans for years of terrible performances

  4. Matt

    02/28/2014 at 6:24 pm

    Not a huge difference but Sounders season tix do include the extra game friendly against Spurs. PPG is actually $24, doesn’t change the order of any of your lists though.

    • @ReeseCommaBill

      02/28/2014 at 6:26 pm

      Ah. Makes sense. I mainly went off of what was on the website, didn’t see a mention of it. Glad you get an extra game in there.

  5. pedro

    02/28/2014 at 6:31 pm

    That’s bull i paid 630 for 2 tickets to chivas usa last season and received no such jersey this year their upping the price to 1080$ and said because I renewed in January and not December I only get the replica not authentic 2 season seats 1 jersey not 2

  6. Paul

    02/28/2014 at 7:31 pm

    Seattle’s situation is more complicated because a high percentage of the supporters section tickets are at a lower price than what’s posted on the site, because they were in the 2009 season and get a healthy discount. I’m not sure how much it is this year but it’s at least 3 or 4 bucks.

  7. PowerBoater69

    02/28/2014 at 8:32 pm

    The United need to keep prices higher to support Ben Olsen’s douchey suit allowance.

  8. PeterL

    02/28/2014 at 8:52 pm

    There are Timbers season tickets that are cheaper than the Timbers Army tickets. I think they are called “Value Terrace” and are something like $12-15 for something like $200-$250 a season ticket.

  9. Joe Z

    03/01/2014 at 2:34 am

    Heads-up, Chivas USA supporters are only paying $8.50/Game (18 matches) this season. Renewing Season Ticket Holders also receive an authentic jersey and a free ticket to the away match against the Galaxy.

  10. Paul

    03/01/2014 at 9:53 am

    Minor thing, but Revs offer a bonus 18th game. Interesting stuff

  11. Anonymous

    03/01/2014 at 6:50 pm

    SKC fans get a lot of perks. Free parking, access to the members club with discounted beer before start of game, supporters scarf, free away game tickets, amazing park, list goes on and on. I don’t care if I’m paying 18 dollars a game

  12. Dave Roberts

    03/02/2014 at 10:13 pm

    Colorado has 2 supporters’ sections: The Terrace (north end, bleachers) is $238 for full season, Section 108 (East sideline, one section off midfield) is $357 for a full season. Centennial38 actually owns all the tickets in both sections and sells them to members in full season, 9 game, 5 game and single game prices (all of which are less than the club would charge for the same seat).

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