BY BILL REESE
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.
• 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.
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.