FC Cincinnati released a statement on Wednesday morning that the club & it’s supporters shattered the largest sales day record in FCC’s short history for the US Open Cup Semifinal vs. the New York Red Bulls (MLS) on August 15th. The club sold more than 16,000 tickets in a seven hour period that included several technical glitches to their third party ticketing site.
As we have all known by now, the tireless work of our sales staff at FC Cincinnati paid off with what will be yet another attendance record in the US Open Cup for the second year organization.
One would have to think that this accomplishment would reflect well to MLS, correct? But, what does selling 30,000+ tickets show Major League Soccer that they already didn’t know?
MLS Commissioner Don Garber knew that something special was going on that he visited the Queen City before the majority of the other expansion candidates. So surely this doesn’t vault us to the top of any speculative expansion ranking lists?
Well, I think there is an overlooked reason why this sell out could really help the bid for FC Cincinnati to become a Major League Soccer franchise.
New Season Ticket Holders
In the club’s release, GM/President Jeff Berding highlighted ways for fans to not miss out on these opportunities in the future. “For those who are still trying to purchase a ticket for the match, I encourage you to sign on with us as a season ticket holder to receive priority in the future.”
How many fans have been on the fence on whether to buy season tickets for the 2018 season? I’d imagine quite a few. If some of these fans recognize that availability for premium matches have now become scarce in the roughly 33,000 seat stadium, I could expect them to commit to the club’s third-year campaign.
Not to mention the countless new prospects that the club will now be able to target to surpass the number of season tickets from 2017 (approx. 12,000).
According to Pat Brennan of Cincinnati.com, FC Cincinnati Season Ticket Holders had a presale rate of over 100% for this match. That means if you have 2 seats, you on average purchased more than 2 in the STH pre sale window last week. That is astounding and how the club gets new season ticket holders. This could have hampered the amount of tickets available to the general public.
While other clubs beg for new fans to come through their doors (looking at you San Francisco), FC Cincinnati fans beg, bribe and pull new fans into Nippert Stadium. This is not a trait that is easily overlooked.
If FC Cincinnati can go to MLS in November and say, “we have over 15,000, 16,000 or 17,000 season ticket holders for 2018,” don’t you think that would make a big difference? That is more people than Columbus averages! Now, of course, there are many differences between the two clubs such as price, history, etc. but that is an outstanding selling point for the club to the top league!
Hear from Jeff Berding on our most recent episode of CST (Begins at 18:01)
Scarcity for New Stadium
Now, you are going to have people say that “we don’t need a new stadium for MLS”, “why do we need a 25K seat venue when we fill over 30K at Nippert”, “why not play 2018 or MLS in Paul Brown Stadium to accommodate everyone who wants a ticket”?
While Nippert is far from perfect for soccer, it provides an intimate setting that will only be amplified when FC Cincinnati moves into a soccer specific stadium. Did you see the reactions from Orlando City fans when they moved from their beloved Citrus Bowl? Do you hear them even bringing up their former stadium now that they are in their crown jewel of a park? It’s because seeing a soccer match in a stadium designed for it is second to none.
If we can show that we will have a huge season ticket base going into a 25,000 seat Soccer Specific Stadium, the popularity of FC Cincinnati could skyrocket due to the demand and exclusivity of going to matches.
For example, the Portland Timbers play in the 22,000 seat Providence Park. They sell out the building every match and have a waiting list of 13,000 fans. Now, I am not saying we will have that number, but if we can get many people on board now, this could absolutely be our situation in 5 seasons with our rate of growth.
MLS fans will tell you that playing in front of the Timbers Army is one of the most difficult things to do in the league. The intimate environment of that park and the exclusivity of those tickets drive momentum for that club and is something our fans can learn from.
Nippert is a wonderful home for our current USL club. But if we want to make it to the top level we need to keep checking off as many requirements and showing that we can build a beautiful stadium and fill it every weekend can only mean good things.
As a fan, first and foremost, I want to thank all the supporters who went out and bought tickets for friends and family. If we didn’t have such a great base to start from, we would surely not be supporting the club to the extent we are. Let’s keep this up for the rest of the season and show our city, the country and the soccer community worldwide that FC Cincinnati isn’t a flash in the pan. Regardless of the outcome Tuesday night, we have much to be proud of. If you aren’t a Season Ticket Holder, in no way does it make you less a fan than people who are. Keep supporting the club in any way you can, but do consider a full-time investment in the club for 2018. Great work Cincy!
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