This weekend’s MLS cup final is one for the history books, and a decade in the making for the thousands of loyal season ticket holders.
When Toronto FC faces of against the Seattle Sounders this Saturday at BMO field, they’ll be the first Canadian team to play in the finals in MLS history.
So for TFC fans, this is the big one. But what should be a game of a lifetime for the club’s loyal fans, has quickly turned into disappointment with some supporters feeling left out in the cold.
“We’ve been there so long, to have this happen, so it’s a little bittersweet,” said Deren Hasip, who’s held regular season tickets since the team set foot onto the field. “We’re excited for the team but disappointed in how it all played out.”
Hasip and other fans are disappointed they won’t be able to cheer in the same seats and along with the same fans they have been since the team was founded.
Several season ticket holders tell CityNews that when they were given first dibs to purchase tickets to Saturday’s game, some of the seats they had been cheering from for years and years, were suddenly unavailable.
“To not be sitting where you were as a season ticket holder, our experiences are about sharing in that excitement for people who’ve been around you for such a long time,” Hasip explains.
CityNews has been receiving multiple calls and emails to our newsroom from numerous fans across Ontario, who say they feel jilted by this experience.
“Unfortunately the loyal season seat holders were the ones who ended up paying the price,” Hasip said.
Joseph Walker’s regular season seats were right on the field, but that’s not where he and his family will be watching the game from this weekend.
“Our seats weren’t available, there were different sections, but none of the tickets we usually have during the season,” he said.
Walker sent CityNews a photo of his seats. They are the blue seats seen below.
Another season ticket holder of nine years tells CityNews, after being unable to purchase his regular seats for Saturday’s game, he found them online on StubHub, where prices listed have more than tripled. The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, says the seat he would normally pay $120 for, is now being auctioned off for $475 on the site.
He and other season ticket holders are now asking if they were denied their seats simply so that others could make a quick buck.
“Why are the tickets being sold on these third party sites for five times the value of what the ticket is really worth,” asked Walker.
A rep from Major League Soccer declined to appear on camera, but tells CityNews, the organization doesn’t post tickets on third party sites like Stubhub. In a statement, MLS said that 18,000 season ticket holders purchased 20,000 tickets for this weekend’s game, and MLS kept 5,000 tickets for sponsors.
Sports Marketing Instructor at York University says this isn’t an uncommon practice for sports leagues.
“The league has to fulfill its requirements, and fans need to understand that,” Vijay Setlur explains. “If fans weren’t able to get tickets at all, then that’s another matter.”
The TFC fan community has been growing in the last few years, and to be amongst the diehard supporters, is part of that ultimate fan experience.
“When they’ve gone to games, they’ve enjoyed the games with other fans around them, that’s what contributed to the atmosphere” Setlur said. “So now to have to cheer and support the team in a different atmosphere, it kind of dampens their experience.”
Setlur doesn’t expect this to impact the number of season ticket holders for next year. In fact, with the team’s success this year alone, he expects the fan base for TFC to grow even bigger in 2017.
Meanwhile, Hasip, who was able to secure other seats a few rows higher, says this experience hasn’t changed his feelings about the reds.
“I’m not going to hold this against them, I want to continue supporting them,” he said. “But you still worry.”