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Should MLS teams set aside more tickets for away fans?

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Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com

With regional rivalries becoming even more prominent in Major League Soccer, MLS teams could find themselves under a high demand for tickets from away fans.

The Seattle-Portland-Vancouver and New York-Philadelphia-D.C. triangles all figure to be hot spots for visiting fans to try and set up shop. It isn't always that easy to secure tickets at an away stadium, though, as some fans can most surely attest.

Do you think MLS teams have a responsibility to cater to away fans?

Cast your vote here:

How did you vote? Have you ever had a problem securing tickets for an away match?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I wonder how many Seattle supporters will complain when The Timbers retaliate and cap away tickets at 150. Probably none, right?

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  2. As of week 21, Seattle was averaging 36,154 (but i don’t know if that is higher than your capacity because there was a game where the upper section was open, or because your number is off.) Supporter’s tickets shouldn’t infringe on the non-season ticket holders ability to get seats, especially for a rivarly match that a lot of the more casual local fans will want to attend. I think the answer really is opening up at least one upper section.

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  3. I like to look at it from a security stand point. If you have rival supporters interacting there are bound to be fights. Keeping the away supporters all in the same area with limited intermingling is just safer for both sides. As for numbers I can see where there are not going to be many Chicago Fire supporters traveling to a Seattle Sounders game but there will certainly be more then 150 Portland Timbers supporters coming up to Seattle and vice versa.

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  4. It is silly insinuate that Timbers fans are coming up there to start 1000 different incidents. This isn’t the first time I have heard this spin when PDXers state that they will attend matches in Seattle regardless of what the away section cap is and that having seats spread throughout the stadium is less than desirable. When home and away fans mingle in the stands there are liable to be incidents. At the Community Shield match some idiot in the concourse attempted to steal my scarf. Random flounders continually tried to enter the supporters section throughout the match to start crap. I am of the opinion that the interactions would be even worse if the fans of opposing teams were interspersed with no real mechanism for security to keep misbehaving fans at bay. Remember who it was that got hogtied by the cops in the beer garden? Not a Timbers fan.

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  5. Riiiiight. I love how insulting the opposing city is a reasonable response to an issue. Because Portland’s approximately 10% unemployment compared to Seattle’s 8% translates to Portland fans being incompetent.
    Anyway, it seems to me that Seattle could jack up the prices for visiting Portland and Vancouver fans, put them in one of the previously tarped off areas, and use the extra money from ticket sales to pay for extra security or whatever at those 2 games (plus any open cup matches that potentially happen)

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  6. That would make more sense if Quest didn’t have multiple sections they could open up. Normal MLS capacity is 35,700, but it can be expanded to 67,000 for big games.

    I believe the F.O. when they say they’re worried about safety and atmosphere. If it was just about the cash they would open up those sections. I just don’t agree with them.

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  7. 1,000 fans is not a big group of people when there are 15-20,000 fans of the other team surrounding them. It just makes for a better atmosphere.

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  8. The hardcore fans will show up anyways by buying tickets online and from scalpers. The unfortunate thing is that they’ll show up in other sections where their are more likely to be incidents. I’d much rather have away fans in a separate section where they can police themselves.

    Also, its the quid-pro-quo that builds support. If we let them into Quest they’ll let us into their stadiums to support our team. 🙂

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  9. Yeah, and a lot of fans and supporters groups of the Sounders are trying to get the F.O. to change their minds. I sent an email to the F.O. last week. We have the seating if we uncover some sections and I’m sure they can arrange the security.

    Good luck and I look forward to beating the Timbers at Quest next year! 😉

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  10. No. You don’t grow fan support by selling tickets to the other team. Also, why wouldn’t you want as much of a home-field advantage as possible? Too many away fans will leading to incidents which is not what MLS needs.

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  11. Joe Roth has no feelings about the Timbers one way or the other. If anyone does, it’s Adrian Hanauer. I’m sure the Sounders primary concern would be security issues. If you’re really interested in coming up here and starting 1000 different incidents all over the stadium, you’ve highlighted why it’s in their best interest to keep you out.

    That said, I would hope for SEA/PDX and SEA/YVR matches, they open up one section in the 300 level. There’s really no reason not to. I don’t care where they put you, quite frankly, but there’s no reason not to open it up.

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  12. That’s a fair compromise. I know right now the Timbers are preparing to set aside at least 500 away tickets in the Southwest corner of the stadium using just that scheme.

    The board of the Timbers Army has also discussed either outright purchasing 1,000 tickets and reselling them ourselves or putting down a substantial deposit to ensure that the Sounders FO isn’t left with empty, unpaid seats.

    But right now, none of that matters. It appears that this is an emotional issue for the Sounders FO and it needs to be taken to the rational level if we are going to make headway on this issue.

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  13. Love how people are complaining about have 1000 tickets for away fans at Seattle when there aren’t 1000 tickets available for any game. Why would a club say no to selling a season ticket just so they can have the seat for someone to see one game? Makes no business sense at all, but then look at the unemployment rate in Portland and that sums it up.

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  14. “Not yet anyway.” I think that is the point here. This hasn’t been a super huge issue yet, but it is going to be and it will continue to grow imho. It makes sense to have a plan and a policy rather than allow season tickets to creep up until there isn’t sufficient space as one poster pointed out may be the case in Toronto. It allows traveling support to congregate together and have a degree of security in a hostile environment. In most stadiums around the country the home team is giving absolutely nothing up to make this happen. Why not get out ahead of it?

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  15. I disagree with the Sounders FO about providing seats to traveling fans. IMHO, the more people we can get involved in the game the better.

    The main problem I see with increasing the supporter sections for away fans are the differing sizes of the stadium. Setting aside 1,000 tickets for away fans will be difficult, but not impossible for the Sounders and the Whitecaps because of their larger stadiums. The Sounders could just set aside one of the covered upper sections.

    However, for some teams, 1,000 is just untenable. For some MLS teams that’s 1/10 of their entire seating. The smaller size of the Timbers stadium is a problem for accommodating large numbers of traveling supporters from Seattle and Vancouver.

    Here’s what I would like to see:

    1) Each team set aside a set percentage of seats for away supporters in one side of the stadium (around 2% of available capacity).
    2) Set these sections away from home supporters groups.
    3) As away supporters request tickets fill in those sections at that side of the stadium.
    4) Two weeks before the game take any remaining sections and open them up to GA.

    This way there’s ample space for away supporters. However, the supporters groups have to arrange to fill those sections early or the seats turn back into GA so there aren’t empty seats. And there’s a supply of tickets for walk-ups which is always nice.

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  16. If they are going to buy them that’s great but set up a system to where a request can be made early enough and have to be filled early enough so that when away fans don’t buy the tickets they can be sold to home fans.

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  17. At its heart for the Seattle/Portland derby this is a security issue. As a board member for the Timbers Army I can tell you right now the Seattle FO has dug in their heals and are stating unequivocally they will not allocate more than 150 tickets. The immensity of how stupid this is I cannot begin to state.

    1,000 + Timbers supporters will be inside the stadium. The question is – will they pull back a tarp and put us all in one, access controlled location or are there going to be 1,000 separate incidents all over the stadium. The level of chaos cannot be underestimated here people.

    Vancouver and Portland FO’s are committed to the safety of both their home and away fans and will be providing a dedicated section with controlled access. The question is – will Seattle pull it’s head out of it’s you know what (I’m looking at you Joe Roth, who apparently can’t set aside his hatred of the Timbers to think clearly about this situation) and make available similar accomodations.

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  18. of course, given how big RFK, it’s a non issue. i’ll change it to RSL fans going to Philly since that stadium holds a lot less.

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  19. i have to go with the 3rd option, depends on the game. there’s no reason to set aside 1,000 tickets for RSL fans for a game against DC United in DC. Not yet anyway.

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  20. On a sidenote, I understand that fans in an otherwise sold out facility may think it is unfair to make these tickets available to away support first and limit capacity for the hometown. I would point out that the flip side of this coin is that these same fans are guaranteed the right to be able to access other teams facilities.

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  21. Portland is/was (depending on how the owners meeting went last week) planning on reserving up to 1,000 seats for away supporters from Seattle and Vancouver. I gaurantee that all three cities can/will bring that many fans to these matches. It’s just whether or not they will be able to sit together in a secure section, or all over the stadium.

    Remember, it’s not just tickets, but ensuring that proper security and facilities are available. Qwest Field has been historically negligent in this area, and visiting fans have had issues. Just letting away fans buy seats wherever is very dangerous for those away fans.

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  22. I agree this is the best way to do it. Dedicated supporters sections add to the games. My one caveat is that no teams set aside tix when FCD rolls into town, the Inferno section is embarrassing enough as it is at its own home games.

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  23. I can’t vote “no” but I think 1,000+ tickets is a bit dramatic for most clubs. But there is a problem with some clubs like Toronto. I remember going up with S8, 200+. The next visit a jackass in their f.o. tried to claim there was less than 100 and cut our allocated tickets. If they wanted to sell more locally, that’s fine. But don’t lie about traveling support numbers.

    If I ran a club I would likely set aside 500 seats and possibly make adjustments for clubs that met the 500 on a regular basis. Travel is good for the league and fans alike. Fans can get affordable tickets and take a mini-vacation that would probably be cheaper than buying 4 tickets to an NFL game.

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  24. It would work for the Pacific Northwest rivalry. The only place in the NY-DC-PHIL that might enforce it is Philly becasue they have a smaller stadium that actually has its season ticket holders show up for MLS matches. RBA never has their season ticket holders come unless they play a solid team with stars and RFK has too many seats.

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  25. This isn’t about having 1,000 empty seats in the stadium when the away fans fail to show up. Every MLS stadium has more than 1,000 seats available to non-season ticket holders. This is about having season tickets organized in such a way as to make it possible for away fans to purchase space in a large block. The box office of the hosting team could then provide rolling deadlines in advance of game day for the opposition’s supporter group (or front office) by which tickets must be purchased or forfeited.

    For example, 1200 tickets would be made available for traveling support. If the away support has not yet purchased 400 tickets 2 months in advance, the available allocation shrinks to 800. If they still haven’t purchased 400 tickets 1 month in advance it shrinks to only 400 seats available. Any seats reserved for away support not sold two weeks in advance of game day would then be released for sale to the public and be made available for walk ups if the game has not sold out. (Ideally the away supporters section would be Gen. Admission for the traveling fans)

    This ensures the best atmosphere possible at each game, while at the same time, as many of these tickets that would otherwise be unused would be available to home fans.

    P.S. If you would lose home field advantage because 1,000 or 1,500 away supporters showed up then you are not doing it right.

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  26. When it comes down to it, if the extra seats are available to sell to visiting fans, sell em. However, I wouldn’t set aside a specific block unless those roadies show they will buy them all.

    I have the feeling that KC will have to deal with larger than normal hoards of visiting fans just so they can see the new stadium next season. One or two teams may not get so lucky, as they may play a few at Arrowhead since the new palace won’t open until June. Personally, I think KC should host LA and NY at Arrowhead to get the bigger crowds for the marquee players, then have the rest at the new stadium.

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  27. Yes. Let me describe the hell it was trying to secure tickets for RBNY supporters going to Philly. At first they only set aside 125 tickets for us, then gave us a second batch. So only 250 tickets spread across the top ends of 2 sections right next to the Sons of Ben with people buying tickets on their own in the section next to that. Finally Philly moved their ST holders and gave us an entire section. The biggest problem though was they were charging $40 plus fees for sideline tickets very close to the Sons of ben. Their reasoning for this was they didn’t want us in the cheaper family sections opposite the Sons of Ben. RBNY has a designated away section opposite of our supporters that can accomodate up to 1000 people, as seen when Philly came through to our stadium. That’s what MLS must enforce.

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  28. Encouraging supporter culture must be embraced as a strategic objective by the MLS. Dedicated tickets for away fans is one proven way to achieve this objective.

    I’m a Seattle fan and I am willing to give up some ticket sales in our sold out arena to encourage regional away support. Granted, some arenas barely hold a 1000 people (PGE Park) much less the fetid grossly obese fans of the Portland Timbers.

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  29. That isn’t a problem with a majority of MLS…obviously.

    Where it is a problem, it is a problem of not building a decent sized stadium and living with the results. Build an exapandale 30k stadium instead of a 20k one, cover the empty seats (if needed) and open them up for Big games.

    I am looking at driving to Portland and Vancouver and wondering will there be tickets ? Vancouver is reducing their stadium to smaller than they were drawing in the 1980s ?!?!?

    ps. Sounders, if you are not opening up the upper bowl for the Vancouver game, please see the 1980s for the reason you should. It was an invasion.

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  30. I think this issue applies more to the teams that sellout or nearly sellout most of their games and would have to come up with a plan to accommodate visiting fans. Obviously if 5000 traveling fans went to Dallas they could just buy tickets through normal channels.

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  31. Absolutely not! Home field advantage is what makes the game fun for home fans and even better if you are a fan of the visiting team which happens to win while you are in attendance.

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  32. How about MLS sells tickets to ANYONE willing to come to their games? For example, the Sounders sell out every game without opening up large blocks of seats to away team fans – why should they have to cater to the opposition? But other teams who consistently have empty seats could benefit from, I dunno, filling them. Even if that means filling them with fans of the visiting team.

    I want to see the sport succeed and grow, so I’m in favor of anything that increases the popularity, marketability, and revenue for the teams in MLS. Places like Dallas can use any ticket sales they can get. If offering more tickets to traveling fans is what it takes to sell seats, do it. I’m not personally financially able to travel just to see MLS games on a regular basis, but when I’m traveling for work or any reason, I will check to see if I might be able to catch a game (almost saw Philly @ Colorado last week, but work schedule prevented it). I understand wanting to maintain home-field advantage, but until teams can consistently draw near-sellout crowds of home team fans, it doesn’t make sense to prevent visiting fans from attending.

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  33. FIFA actually have set forth guidelines in their by-laws and regulations for how teams should manage the “away” support. I haven’t read them recently, but if I remember correctly, teams are supposed to provide a separate and secure “sector” for away supporting fans (and I distinctly remember that this sector is supposed to be as far as possible from the home supporter sectors). So I wouldn’t say 1k seats is necessarily the norm, but a Sector (or Section, as we usually call them) should be reserved for away fans (which could be anywhere from a couple hundred to ~1000).

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  34. This question really only applies to the Seattle-Portland-Vancouver or the DC-NY-Philly rivalries. LA is lucky to have a sellout crowd for the superclasico. At best a few dozen fans travel between Chicago/Columbus. And Dallas can’t even get 1,000 of their fans to show up for a home game so forget about it when they play Houston.

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  35. It’s a good idea to do it, as long as the number of tickets are roughly adjusted for demand.

    For the heated rivalry games, there is also an argument for keeping away fans in their own section, as opposed to having them scattered throughout the stadium.

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  36. I think away fans should get ZERO tickets. If you want to watch your team play then do it in your own dirty city. In fact, local police should do sweeps to identify people from that city and exile them on game day.

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  37. This is a good poll question. In fact, supporters groups and ownership among the Northwest rivalry are trying to tackle this issue right now as Seattle wants to limit away fans to 150 tickets (which i guess is the league required minimum). Of course, obviously with such close proxmity, Portland and Vancouver fans will probably still be able to pick up scattered tickets on Craigslist and other spots.

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  38. Tough…

    You cant simply put aside 1000 seats without disrupting season ticket holders (at BMO, they’d lose their season tickets).

    Also, with the size of our country, setting aside that large of a set number wouldnt work b/c a NY vs Sounders game wouldnt have anywhere near 1k away fans. However, as TFC has shown, a closer match could in fact sell more tickets to away.

    I would state NO until most of the team’s away pool of tickets are consistently sold out.

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  39. It really should depend on the match. It might make sense for certain rivalries, but there’s not going to be 1000 DC United fans showing up at a San Jose match. You might have a big chunk of away fans going between Portland-Seattle-Vancouver or Philly-NYC-DC.

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