Getting people to qualifiers isn’t so complicated, just lower ticket prices

ESPN’s Steve Davis seems to say here that he thinks linking tickets to the World Cup finals with attendance at World Cup qualifiers would be a good way to help increase ticket demand for the qualifiers. That’s an interesting idea, one whose complexity of execution boggles my mind at the moment.

I have a simpler plan. It’s called lowering the ticket prices. Take a look at the prices for the USA-El Salvador match.

The only sub-$50 seats in the entire place are on the ends and corners, and I should add, these are already sold out. To me, this indicates that a lot of American soccer fans simply aren’t willing to pay “BIG EVENT” prices (more than $50 per seat) for what is still a match against El Salvador. Yes, it’s an important match against El Salvador. But it’s a match against El Salvador, the 110th ranked team in the world and featuring no one you’ve ever heard of unless you live in the DC/MD/VA “little San Salvador metroplex.”

Should are fans be more excited and willing to fork over cash because it’s “AN IMPORTANT QUALIFIER?” Yes, but it’s also completely unreasonable in this economy for the USSF to simply expect fans to pile to the ticket booths by saying “THIS MATCH IS IMPORTANT” and then gouging their eyes out with the prices. For many people, in this current economy, $62-$85 is way too much for an upper deck seat, which is what they’re asking for for the USA-ELV match. To me, an upper deck seat should never be more than $50 for a qualifier, no matter how good the vantage point is.

RFK, which is hosting the final qualifier against Costa Rica, seems to have a slightly better grasp on where the tickets need to be priced. Of course, I grant you that RFK is far larger than Rio Tinto, and the Costa Rica game a) might not mean anything, and b) is on a Wednesday night.

On top of that, there will likely be the usual methods available through DC United’s supporters clubs and/or the American Outlaws to get slightly discounted seats.

I would also add that I don’t think this is a matter of “savvy soccer fandom” or a rip on Utah soccer fans. I just think it’s a matter of what people are willing to spend on soccer and entertainment in general. Yes, while US Soccer has seen its promotional and commercial “stock” rise this summer, it’s still operating in the same depressed entertainment market as everyone else. They need to keep that in mind as they price these matches.


11 thoughts on “Getting people to qualifiers isn’t so complicated, just lower ticket prices

  1. Davis’ idea really, really ********s over people who don’t live in cities with qualifiers that particular cycle. Even adding friendly attendance only helps people in Southern California, thanks to the annual Scandinavian Garbage Friendly, and whoever happens to live near a spare AEG facility (give us a wave, Hartford).

    And the last thing the US needs is US fans buying tickets and not showing up to the actual game, which is what would happen if you treat qualifiers as World Cup PSL offers.

  2. $85 for a upper deck ticket obviously disguised as a midfield seat is ridiculous.

    Who wants to pay $115 for a $36 end line ticket just for the privilege of sitting in the front row?

  3. Damn! These ticket prices make the Galaxy tickets look like a bargain. Do these guys enjoy playing in front of an empty house?

  4. completely agree- my last qualifier I attended was in Denver. All the cheaper seats were completely sold out and those sections had great atmosphere. The midfield seats ($$$) had bunches of unsold sections.

    First, USSF doesn’tt want to price their seats too cheaply and thus give the perception that soccer/qualifying/USMNT isn’t a big-time event.

    Secondly, this is big business for them. They want to get as much revenue as possible. The USMNT has never been more popular so they want to cash in with higher ticket prices. The problem becomes when you alienate or prevent your biggest fans from being able to afford tickets. I’d be willing to bet an across the board ticket price reduction for lower tier opponents (non-Mexico, non-UEFA opponents) would increase sales and offset any potentially lost revenue from a price reduction.

  5. I’m not entirely sure that they had their thinking caps on when they chose Rio Tinto as the venue for this game. Why not RFK? 50k seats at $20 – $40 a pop would add up to a sizable pile of cash and the seats would be full. Many of them would be Salvadorean fans, but so what?

    Hell, just have all USMNT vs. Honduras or El Salvador games at RFK as a general rule. Only DC United are using that place anyway and they already have vendors that sell pupusas.

  6. and when exactly has the USSF ever been afraid to alienate their biggest fans with stupid money grasping and nickel and diming?

  7. Don’t you stand to make a hell of a lot more money if you drop ticket prices by a third, and get 10,000 more fans to show up? Souveniers, concessions, parking, etc….

  8. According to an RSL blog from today (…et-update.html), here’s the remaining seats:
    So not many left, but it is interesting that of the 846 left, 726 are in those “Upper Deck Midfield.” Obviously some of those will get bought between now and kickoff, but that might be the one section they missed the price-point on.

    I think they can get away with event pricing for the most part because it’s a relatively small venue, and because people will often spend more to travel to these games than they will on the tickets. I know I did for Mexico, and that was with buddies in Columbus to stay with.

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