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MLS clears way for Cascadia clubs to allocate 500 tickets to supporters for away matches

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The supporters groups from the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps have spoken, and Major League Soccer apparently listened.

The league approved a plan for hardcore fans of the three Cascadia MLS clubs to purchase up to 500 tickets for away matches against each other in 2011, the three teams announced Wednesday.

This is good news for three of the strongest and largest fan bases for soccer in North America. While some details need to be ironed out, the bottom line is that 500 tickets will be sold by each home team to the visiting team, and in turn the visiting club will distribute those tickets to their supporters groups.

There had previously been concern that only 150 tickets would be allotted for sale to visiting supporters groups for games involving the three clubs, who will face each other at home and away in 2011. That didn't sit well at all with the supporters, and they let their respective ownerships hear their dismay. They also sent a letter of protest to MLS commissioner Don Garber.

"The approved plan to allocate 500 tickets for visiting supporters will help grow a rivalry that is unique to this region," said Joe Roth, Sounders FC owner, in a statement from the club. "The three clubs, along with Major League Soccer, are committed to fostering local rivalries as well as providing visiting supporters an opportunity to support their clubs on the road."

Ironically, it was Roth who reportedly brought up the 150-ticket limit in the first place. That spurred leaders of the primary supporters groups for each of the three Cascadia clubs into unified action.

The Sounders have the largest stadium, Qwest Field, out of the three clubs, but the stadium routinely sells out no matter the opponent, at least for MLS matches.

There's a long history of the rivalry between the three clubs that goes back to the North American Soccer League days. The Sounders and Whitecaps joined that league in 1974 and the Timbers followed in 1975, and fans of all three teams traveled en masse to away matches in the region.

The tradition carried over into the USL days, though overall crowds were smaller in number in Seattle and Vancouver. In 2009 and 2010, U.S. Open Cup matches between the Sounders and Timbers at Portland's PGE Park were the hottest tickets in town, and busloads of Sounders fans traveled the three hours south on Interstate 5 for the matches.

"Away support, especially for derbies, is a critical part of soccer’s DNA," Merritt Paulson, owner and president of the Timbers, said in a statement from the team. "The Timbers – along with Seattle, Vancouver and Major League Soccer – are committed to cultivating these significant regional rivalries by embracing the positive dynamic that away supporters bring and encouraging visiting fan support. The clubs look forward to hosting visiting supporters in a professional manner."





  1. But it is nice if the away fans are in one section so they can show a unified front. If they are sprinkled all over the stadium, they lose their meaning and become a part of the general crowd. A good section of away fans always electrifies a football match.

  2. You’re not alone on that one.

    Before I started following the A-League more closely, back in ’04 i had never heard of it either.

    It was the Vancouver, Seattle and Portland fans who were kicking it around all the time. They had a Cup rivalry named Cascadian Cup.

    Education through soccer. Alas, it has served me (relatively) well…

  3. I think this is definitely a positive.

    Now it is up to the fans out there to keep a lid on anything kicking off between those supporting different clubs.

    Garber said at the Supporters summit up here in Toronto last month that the thing that gives him the occasional sleepless night is fan on fan violence. I really think that if anything goes down between say Seattle and Portland next year the league will clamp down on away fan trips across the league, and that at least a segment of the MLS hierarchy would be happy to do so and remove one more headache for themselves..

    Supporters culture gets the need/benefits of solid away support. It is now up to them to remember how important it is to the league to get this right. And lets hope that the clubs involved take the time to get the security right and find ways of keeping these fans apart.

  4. Ahhhh… The Cascadia Rivalry–I’ve admired it from afar. It was one of the biggest jewels of the USL1/A-League.

    Nice to see that all of the good will and brother and sisterhood are going to transfer to MLS.

    By bringing in the Whitecaps and Portland, MLS has made itself a hell of a lot more interesting. Not because of the actual clubs that they imported but because of the fans.

    If you are unfamiliar with the second division Cascadian rivalry then you should be in for a treat. There is nothing in MLS that I can compare to what I affectionately refer to as the “Northwest Trifecta”.

    Seriously, it’s a “numbers” thing but oh so much more.

    Take any two MLS clubs with a rivalry or divisional rivals and it just doesn’t compare to what is going on up in the Northwest. If they were crazy down in the second division then they are going to stone cold jacked up now that they have all been reunited on an even bigger stage.

  5. People, people people….

    I live in LA and in order to enjoy the LA derby or Super Clasico as they call it now, I use to just call up Chivas FO and buy some damn tickets? This is also to help the cause and assure about 3 or 4 (1 now that there is an even amount of games with each team) fully sold out games with over 27K fans since they open up the grass berm in the North end, which they should just turn into a nice 5-8K extra seats by closing both west & east corners of 2nd level tier seating (currently there’s no 2nd tier seating other than just the east side) and a nice chunk in north end)

    Eventually I got smart and got Season tickets for Chivas USA so I could easily watch the Galaxy games, Chicago Fire when Papa& Blanco made them good and any good interesting MLS team, plus I get a sweet discount & 1st dibs on international matches Chivas USA has control of like 2006 Barca game in LA vs Chivas Gua. You’re able to buy more tickets at STH price this way.

    So people this is the US of freaking A! Go on ticketmaster or Seattle’s website and Buy some freaking tickets, I swear if I lived in Seattle I would buy 2 or 3 rows worth of tickets and sell them to Portland fans at a nice 20% up charge.
    Just get together with buddies, have 1 person who you can trust with all the money from tickets and that person buys 16-32 tickets you might have to do it in 2 transactions but come on!

  6. Will this carry over to other derby’s allocation of visiting supporter tickets? Say like Colorado and RSL? That is one rivalry just about ready to really take-off and explode for the MLS.

  7. Yeah but it’s not the first year for these rivalries, just the first year that it happens to be in MLS. Last year over 1000 Sounders fans went to Portland for a midweek Open Cup game. Now put that game on a Saturday in MLS. That seems like evidence enough for higher demand.

    I’ve been reading around and there are a lot of reasonable arguments, espec. on supporters club pages, for why this number should be higher, at least 1000 if not 5%. But I can’t find any explanation for why the front offices have tried to control away supporter numbers besides the slight chance that not all tickets would sell, which doesn’t seem very plausible to me. Have any of the FOs been asked this directly?

  8. Not sure but Leeds took over 7000 to Old Trafford last year for the FA Cup and they were only League One at the time.

    Personally I think 500 is a good number. Sure they COULD sell more, but why not let it run for a year and reevaluate the situation when you have some hard numbers to support their decision.

  9. Exactly. There really doesn’t need to be any outrage. 500 is much better than 150. If and when it is proven that 500 isn’t enough, then this can be reviewed again next year and increased to an appropriate number.

  10. I don’t get the outrage. This is the FIRST YEAR for Portland and Vancouver in MLS. It’s not all or nothing, there can be incremental change. Prove that 500 tickets is not enough, and in the future that number will increase.

  11. I’m sure if Seattle ownership sees the demand is there, from Seattle or Portland fans, they’d open up more seating. The only thing they’d be afraid of would be increased costs which I have no idea what all would go into that, but I imagine having a little more security, vendors, etc. on staff would be outweighed by increased ticket revenues.

    Either way, as a bystander I’m pumped to see how this plays out. Will hopefully be a great model for MLS to develop and grow with the rest of its clubs.

  12. What a ridiculous puff piece. In no way is 500 tickets enough and was at least 500 less than ALL of the supporters groups called for.

    Your years of being a Seattle flack as shining through Romero. Ives should probably pull you off this beat if you’re going to take the press releases from the clubs at face value without reaching out to the supporters groups for their reactions.

  13. Lolz seriously…I find it hilarious that Portland or any other team’s fans would think that the Sounders are “scared” of their traveling support.

  14. the league is going to have their hands full when over 500 portland fans drive up for the game and are expected to mix amongst the seattle fans. I guarantee after all of the problems they will have this year, that number will be expanded next season.

  15. Ummm, I am a Sounder’s fan.

    I want the whole stadium opened up for these games. IF 15,000 Timbers’ fans want to show up. Let em.

    I think the home attendance will be 39k for a typical game, I think when the Sounders fans see that there are seats available for two games after selling out the rest of the season, there will be plenty of demand.

    A post on Sounder’s blogs want the whole stadium opened up too, so I don’t think we are afraid of a handful of thousand Timbers’ fans.

    On the countrary, they are kind of cute in how powerful they think they are.

  16. Well the supporters didn’t drop millions of dollars to buy the teams so I guess they will have to wake up and realize they don’t run the teams, the owner do and the owners make their decisions with the team and “all” of the fans in mind and not just what a few supporters want for themselves.

  17. Best line of the article.

    “The tradition carried over into the USL days, though overall crowds were smaller in number in Seattle and Vancouver.”

    Way to stick with it, Seattle Ultras.

  18. The limit of 500 tickets allocated to away fans itself is merely symbolic of the actual problem occurring; the supporters groups ambitions and the ownership ambitions are not in alignment. Ownership is concerned about a potential one or two percent dip in ticket sales. Supporters groups are concerned about the long term goal of fostering a thriving soccer tradition in the Pacific Northwest. This has nothing to do with supporters groups not being able to sit together at away games. Also, this is not about fights between away fans sitting in the home section. Rowdy fans can always find ways of getting into trouble.

    I think every comment made above recognizes that there was another arbitrary number not far away that would have mollified the supporters’ groups. A token of compromise by the ownership would have gone a long way towards affirming supporters’ groups “supposed” democratic voice in the direction the clubs are going.

    In addition, I’m disappointed by SBI’s “win/win” coverage of the issue. It comes off as, at best, uninformed, and at worst, sycophantic. I’m guessing they read an MLS press release and rewrote it as their own w/o doing any actual journalism. However, you can’t argue with 16 million pageviews. Way to go!

  19. Just out of curiosity what is the proportion of home/away supporters at the big derbies around the world, like Boca Juniors/River Plate, Roma/Lazio, or Milan? 500 or even 1000 tickets seems pretty paltry to me, especially if the Cascadia rivalry is as rabid as they say.

  20. It is not a logical conclusion b/c Portland and Vancouver are giving a larger percentage of their seats to Seattle…

    Let’s say Portland has 18k seats, and gives 500 to Seattle, but Seattle has 36k seats, and gives 500 to Portland…while the actual seat count is the same, the percentage of away supporters to home supporters is greater in Portland than in Seattle… They should have set a percentage number…

  21. Last year’s attendance was around 36k, so increasing it by 4-5k is reasonable. If the support and demand for more tickets is still there after this season, then you add another 4-5k again. It is a process and you have to start somewhere. I don’t think you can just open up the stadium and expect thousands of away fans to show up.

  22. The Sounders don’t HAVE to do more, just SHOULD do more.

    Hanauer and I were both at games were Vancouver had thousands of people come down to the Kingdome.

    So close to 40k for a typical game, plus thousands of away fans, plus extra tickets to Sounders’ fans…what are you thinking only 45k ?

    Fine, open it up for two games a year for 45k too.

  23. It’s only 500 because the Timbers and Whitecaps don’t have enough seats to accomodate more; don’t see how it is fair for Seattle to open up seats for all of the away fans who want them but not have the same in return. This amount is a logical conclussion.

  24. every seat they sell to an away fan is another $ to Seattle.. i don’t understand why they don’t want it?

    its not like MLB teams limit the amount of seats available when the Red Soxs or Yankees come to town…

  25. dont understand why they just couldn’t buy as many tickets as they want online until the stadiums are full? also why doesn’t Seattle open all 67,000 seats if they think they can sell that much?

  26. The Sounders don’t need to open up any more seats for opposing teams than those teams will open up for Sounders fans. Expecting 50k for those games is a little unreasonable.

  27. Big disappointment.

    The Sounders need to open up more than 500 seats for the Whitecaps’ and Timbers’ games

    Not beyond reason that they would have 50k fans for those games, between travelers and more of us Sounder’s fans.


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