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My ESPN piece on the traveling MLS fan


  1. Don’t be fooled by the impression that the big US sports don’t sell tix to visiting fans. What do you think the high-price travel packages are? It’s not just the Super Bowl and World Series…Worst those packages are sold to the “suits” (or Keano’s prawn/shrimp salad eaters) regardless of fan connection. The league should be in the middle, figuring out how to assure regular price tix to so that they can get to games…summer 3 day weekend…come on.a trip Seattle or Boston, even SLC has to have something to occupy one’s body or soul for a 2 day trip…this is so easy to support and build in to the league…

  2. alex- then you do agree with the article… noone is expecting anything this year. the article was to encourage a change soon before it becomes a problem.

  3. I don’t know if I agree with the article completely or not.

    Visiting fans should have access, and 100 tickets is pathetic. But, TFC needs to be given notice as well. If they want a large allocation they need to deal in advance, preferably with the other front office as opposed to the supporters groups.

    It really comes down to what the league can organize to encourage traveling support. Realistically what FO is going to give more tickets to visiting fans if they aren’t mandated?

  4. Well written as always, in addition to ticket allocations, rival clubs working together there needs to be affordable and attractive travel packages for the fans that MLS organizes with major corporations.

    What I mean is MLS need to work with the airlines, rental car companies, hotel companies to get special deals.

    As rapids fan why couldn’t we get a package with Frontier Airlines, Budget Car rental, Best Western so I can travel to Salt Lake for say $325 – $350?

    Not only with the atmosphere be better at the game it will also look better on TV and grow over time.

  5. I wanna move.

    Tryin’ to be a Travelin’ Fan. Yeah!

    Well, I’m flyin’ across the land,

    try’in’ to get a hand,

    Tryin’ to be a Travelin’ Fan.

    Take me to the hotel, Baggage gone, oh, well.

    Come on, come on, won’t you give me some room,

    could only thing of CCR traveling band, gotta let fans travel, it creates a much better atmosphere, in college i helped start the fan group of the Maryland soccer team and we traveled to a few away games and outnumber significantly we made a lot of noise, which in turn wakes up the rest of the crowd and makes for a much better atmosphere, opposing fans spur on the home fans and I think give you not only a better overall atmosphere but even a bigger home field advantage bc your fans wake up

  6. Toronto should be ashamed of denying fanatical supporters the opportunity to cheer on their team.

    Oh, what? They’re Fire fans?

    F— ’em.

  7. Thanks for writing the article Ives. I’m a displaced Chicagoan so I can’t get involved with section8, but I think MLS should want traveling supporters when possible. I don’t blame Toronto for wanting to have tickets to please the home crowd demands, but MLS will hopefully make some mandate in the not too distant future.

  8. whether or not it’s copying Europe, there’s no questiion that having a section of away supporters makes the atmosphere at the game greater. There’s also no question that MLS, conisdering that it still doesn’t have nearly the amount of fan interest that the football, baseball, and basketball have, should do more to support it’s most dedicated fans.

    As a Fire fan I love it when a substantial section of opposing fans is at the game (like when we played Celtic and TFC this year) and as a Michigan football fan, I definitely appreciate how much better the atmosphere is at games where the opposing team brings a big section of fans (the only time this doesn’t happen is if we play a team from way outside of the region).

  9. It does seem that the Chicago Fire fan base has a tenacity to whine more than any others in the MLS. “Don’t pat us down, we need more standing room only seats, the beer lines move to slow, management doesn’t listen to us, it just isn’t fair give us more tickets to away games.”

    Wah, Wah, Wah…..

  10. AS and Jeff I told agree with your opinions.

    Ives in a word I think your article is “CRAP”.

    “The section was covered by mesh netting to protect the fans from projectiles.”

    That is just what we need a stadium designed to encourage projectiles. It is amazing that sports have existed this long in North America without organized and encouraged fan violence.

  11. As a fire fan im planning on traveling to Toronto regardless if I have a ticket or not. I know its not as great as having a ticket, but showing up in Toronto will show the mls that away supporters cannot be ignored. I encourage other Fire fans to join me and add to the atmosphere, even if we are watching at a pub.

  12. I know I’m having a one way conversation with myself, but I meant the waiver draft results, and if anyone else was interested, it appears that only 3 players were taken:

    DC – Jeff Curtin

    Houston – Kyle Brown

    Chicago – Brandon Prideaux

  13. Sorry to change the subject, but this is a clip from a story on fox soccer. Does any body know if it is true?

    “A match was played between Barbados and Grenada in a cup competition. Barbados needed to win the game by two clear goals in order to progress to the next round. The trouble was caused by a daft rule in the competition which stated that in the event of a game going to penalty kicks, the winner of the penalty kicks would be awarded a 2-0 victory.

    With 5 minutes to go, Barbados were leading 2-1, and going out of the tournament. Then, when they realized they were probably not going to score against Grenada’s massed defence, they turned round, and deliberately scored an own goal to level the scores and take the game into penalties. Grenada, not being stupid, realized what was going on, and then attempted to score an own goal themselves.

    However, the Barbados players started defending their opponents goal to prevent this. In the last five minutes, spectators were treated to the incredible sight of a team defending their opponents goal against attackers desperately trying to score an own goal and goalkeepers trying to throw the ball into their own net. The game went on to penalties, which Barbados won and so were awarded a 2-0 victory and progressed to the next round.”

  14. Derek- (in response to your concern about each game allotment)

    as stated in the other TGIF topic, the allotment could be in place, and then whatever is not sold by a certain date would be opened to the public. Thus allowing TFC to continue to sellout games and allow soon-to-be rival teams a chance to support in respectable numbers

  15. I think this was something that Red Bulls were trying to push when they first came into the league. First there were the free busses and tickets to the first RBNY match (played in DC). I think we had 17 full busses make the trip (and it was a blast). I remember at the time RB saying that they were planning to not just do that for some of the away matches against nearby rivals, but also that they were intending to provide free busses for NE and DC supporters when their teams would play in NY. At least that’s what I was hearing (I guess Ives you’ll have to tell us if RB was actually planning to do this type of thing or if it was just an unfounded rumor). I remember a lot of RB fans not being happy about this complaining that doing so would weaken the home field advantage we have at Giant’s Stadium.

  16. PJ, thanks for that post, I think some TFC fans are feeling a little picked on for having this discussion start because of Section 8’s request for 500 tickets being denied. This is going to become a problem across MLS as soccer continues to gain popularity in the US and as more expansion happens. Just wait until St. Louis joins the party, FIRE fans will travel in droves for that match. The same can be said when Philly joins the league for DC/NYNJ/NE.

    Since Toronto joined MLS my wife & I really want to visit Canada and figured since we love the FIRE why not go see a match in Toronto. It seems like this will become almost impossible if only 100 tickets will be available for the road team’s supporters. Sure I may be able to scalp some tickets but the way this new rivalry is starting I might fear for our safety sitting among the TFC supporters (I mean they like to throw things – like seat cushions haha).

    Having the away team supporter’s in your home team’s stadium just adds to the excitement of the match and truly does wonders for the game experience. I hope this does not get lost when the MLS decides to discuss this topic.

  17. Good article. My only concern is that if the league were to step in and mandate a certain percentage or amount of seats for away supporters, I mean, how are they going to determine that exactly? Obviously certain rivalries are going to generate big numbers of away supporters, but other matches (DC -RSL as an example) aren’t going to generate a lot if any away supporters. 2.5% may be appropriate for one match, but not for another — and then what happens if one team’s fans spontaneously decide to crash an away game and want to go over their quota, for whatever reason?

  18. People can’t seriously be comparing the experience of attending a soccer game with the experience of attending other sporting events. It’s not just about getting tickets. It’s about having a supporters section where people can sing in unison. Yanks/BoSox is NOTHING like TFC, or like soccer at all. Teams should offer seats to their rivals so that they’ll be afforded the same courtesy when they’re away. Giving something like 1-2% of your stadium is not going to take away your home field advantage, but it creates a much more fun stadium dynamic. In baseball it doesn’t matter because fans sit there quietly and clap their hands – there’s no stadium dynamic anyway. Bleacher creatures may be rowdy, but they certainly don’t come together to create anything greater than their obnoxious yelling. And don’t forget Ives’ bigger point – MLS needs to cater to the die-hards. This is not MLB where teams have thousands upon thousands of big fans. Die-hard MLS fans will help the league grow.

    Chris – Ives referred to that Pitch Invasion piece in an earlier post. He wanted to write on the same topic because he thought it was important for it to get more national attention.

  19. I think we in Toronto are in danger of hypocrisy – if we ever tried to travel in numbers and got denied, we certainly wouldn’t feel the same way we do now, saying that “oh well it’s the home team and its supporters that matter”. It’s nice that we’re the first ones with the ‘problem’, but i’d personally welcome it if the league stepped in/had a policy.

  20. AS and Jeff – just what we need to do is ape the NBA or NFL. Look what it did for the NHL – the more the league tried to act like the NFL or the NBA the less popular it became…. and then the strike. They really haven’t recovered.

    College sports are some of the most passionate in the country and the away team always has a traveling section that has been designated for their fans, and that they are responsible for selling.

    Lets not copy anyone whether it is another professional league in the US or the football leagues of Europe. What needs to be done is whats right for MLS, and when it comes to a group of 500 away fans being willing to travel 700 miles to see their team then MLS should find a way to accomodate them.

    Finally, this will create additional scarcity for tickets in the home markets as the league continues to grow and move into SSS which I think is actually a healthy problem.

    Thats my two cents.

  21. Ives, couldn’t agree with you more. I went to Chelase vs Reading @ Stamford bridge last year. The atmosphere had everything to do with the away fans. The fans of both teams went back and forth the entire game! The game ended in a 2-2 tie and was by far my greatest soccer experience.

  22. as much as i think its a great idea for away fans to be a part of the experience, i have to go against the grain of this post and agree with A.S.

    large groups of traveling “away team” fans is just not a part of american professional sports culture. should it be? thats another argument.

    i think yanks/bosox is a perfect example that is comparable to TFC. both teams regularly sell out. why would they offer a block of seats to their rival (and in this baseball example, their enemy) when these seats could be sold to home-field supporters?

  23. A.S- none of the sports you used as an example incorporate fan groups. in American Football, baseball and hockey, you can go and sit and cheer alone or in small groups. bit of a difference when you are attempting to sing or chant about your team or against the opposing team. having the other team’s fan base at the stadium elevates the enviornment. take a look at college level sports.

    i know for a fact that an allotment of tickets are given to Purdue when they come down to play IU. basically limiting them to one side. it’s quality to see the two go at it.

    we are talking about a span of maybe 5-6 games that TFC would have anything to worry about. They wont have to worry about NY (who i believe is playing them at BMO on thursday).

  24. Awesome article.

    The Don and Co. are going to ignore this and supporters are long as they possibly can. they simply aren’t willing to pay the money needed to address this from a league standpoint and they also aren’t going to force the ownership of SSS’s to build in an away supporter’s section until something really bad happens.

    There’s already been skirmishes in Los Anageles, Toronto and DC between supporters that would in mind, be enough to get on this now, but they still aren’t thinking that way. It’s going to take massive injuries, the threat of a lawsuit and negative press for the league to deal with this properly as they want to think that soccer supporters in the US are as blissfully commercialized and brand passionate as those that watch NFL games.

    We’re not. We don’t swap clubs because of a cool Jersey or a player. We are part of a social system that does not exist in any other sport in North America and we pride ourselves on that.

  25. Sorry, but I just don’t understand why we need to copy every bit of the European experience here. It really bothers me – we don’t need to name our clubs “Real” anything (we speak English, you know) or “FC” anything (we call it soccer, not football). We don’t need to copy the two matches against each team, home-and-home schedule. And we don’t need to have a section of tickets reserved for the other team.

    Do the Red Sox need to provide a Yankees supporters section? Do the Rangers need to provide an Islanders supporters section? Do the Cowboys need to provide a Redskins supporters section? No. So why does TFC need to provide a Chicago supporters section?

    Chicago Fire fans can get their tickets for TFC the same way Chicago Blackhawk fans get their Maple Leaf tickets.

  26. Great article Ives but I’d also add that LA-SanHo had a healthy group of fans that traveled both ways since the beginning of the league.

  27. bit off topic here, but did anyone ever see a list of the full supplemental draft picks? the only one i’ve heard is the fire’s pick thru the red card.

    anyway, i think there should be a mandate too ~ 100 is too small. i think toronto & mls is being a bit myopic. maybe a compromise at 300 would suffice for this year and they can figure the issue out during the year.

  28. As a Chicago supporter who was unable to get tickets for a game in Toronto, I have to agree that there should be more tickets set aside for away fans. When Toronto fans came to Chicago, it definitely added to the atmosphere, and in my experience at the World Cup in Germany, having both sets of supporters in the stadium makes for a great atmosphere.

  29. 500 is indeed 2.5% of the stadium’s capacity. Seems reasonable.

    What you have to remember is Toronto has 16,641 season ticket holders in a 20,000 seat stadium. You’re asking for 15% of the single game tickets on gameday. Personally, I have mixed feelings on this issue. I’m a die hard TFC fan who can’t get a ticket but at the same time I feel having 500 Chicago fans would certainly add to the gameday experience and atmosphere.

    Conclusion: expand the frickin’ stadium and solve both problems!

  30. solid article, but it’s too bad ESPN doesn’t have it up front and center at the moment…it certainly deserves that treatment, especially over “I, Jimmy”

  31. Good article!

    I was planning on taking a vacation to Toronto that would coincide with the Fire visiting BMO but that looks like it may now be in jeopardy. I guess I will just have to watch the game at a bar and spend the rest of my time sitting in the strip clubs. Boobies always have a way of making me feel better. They’re magical like that.

  32. It’s a great article and the team should definitely make a certain number of seats available to away teams.

    My issue is purely money, and time. Going to Boston or DC is doable for me. Beyond that I either can’t afford to go to an away game or don’t have the time to do so.

    I drove out to Chicago for USA vs. England. That was a huge pain in the butt. And I’m not at a point in life where I have money to fly out to any away games.

    So while I want to see Ives’ prediction come to fruition, any consessions the league might make for away fans likely won’t be of much help to me personally. But for fans overall it would be great.

  33. Soccer-

    what’s the point to your post?? there should still be a section set aside for away fans. 500 seats is 2.5% of BMO’s capacity (not asking much). what isnt used by away can easily be sold to the public.

    if TFC has too many fans for BMO, perhaps they should expand in the near future (which i assume they are already talking about).

  34. Something positive on this whole issue, I feel I need to bring up. The fact that this is even an issue (away fans traveling to games) shows the great progress that this league is making. Yes, I know there should be allocations, yes I know MLS makes up new rules every week, but the fact that there are 500 people willing to drive 9 hours from Chicago to Toronto to watch an MLS game makes me beyond happy. One of the best sporting events I was ever apart of was when RBNY first bought the team and provided free tickets and bus rides to whoever wanted to come down to RFK stadium. us RBNY fans had our own section and were screaming and yelling like crazy! Such a great time! I really hope that the league gets this figured out by the time Philly joins the league.

  35. excellent write… the fact that we even come to this possible problem is saying alot about the league… continue to grow MLS

  36. Nice article.

    I’ve never been to an MLS away game, but actually last year my friend’s and I (we’re all Fire fans) tried to get tickets to the second away match at Toronto and couldn’t which was a big shame.

    Anyway, despite having never been to an away Fire game, I go to the University of Michigan and grew up a big Michigan fan, and let me tell you some of the greatest memories that I have involving sports come from away UM games that I went to. There is not much that compares to being at a game where two sections of the stadium oppose eachother with chants, colors, and cheers. Being part of Michigan’s travelling supporters for games at Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State has been an incredible experience that in some ways surpasses the experience of going to a home contest. Whether at a home game or an away game, however, seeing one end of the stadium decked out in the colors of the road team is always special. I also went to USA-Czech and USA-Italy in the world cup, and being at a game like that where two sections of the stadium oppose eachother is really special.

    MLS should make it a rule, just like in college sports, that a certain percentage of the stadium is reserved for away fans. This is the way that it works in college football. It’s true that many MLS games do not sell out; but if the visiting team does not use their entire share of tickets then the remaining tickets could just be made available to the public. That’s the way that it works in college football.

    Like Ives said, travelling to a match as an away supporter makes you feel a much stronger connection to the team you are supporting and to your fellow fans. Nobody with the dedication to travel hours away to support their MLS team should be denied that opportunity – these are the exact types of fans that the MLS should be trying to attract.

  37. Minor issue with the article, and it may not even be valid since they don’t have to travel and further than they do for their home games. But Chivas/Galaxy SuperClassicos always involve tons from both teams.


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