Full house for MLS Cup final in question

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:20 PM ET

TORONTO - What will the crowd look like for Sunday’s MLS Cup final?

The only sure thing is they’ll be bundled up. An 8:30 p.m. kick-off by the Lakeshore, inside a stadium the wind is notorious to howl through should make for a whole lot of toques and mitts. And wet-weather gear as well. A forecast calling for 60% chance of showers and a low of -1 C will test even the most ardent fan.

It will be cold, but after all, we are Canadian. Embracing the elements is in our blood. Grab your hot chocolate, spike it if you so please, bundle up, and watch some soccer. That’s my kind of Canadiana.

Training at Lamport Stadium years ago, as part of the Ontario provincial set-up was never easy, but always interesting.

Besides, 18,000 braved near sub-zero temperatures and less than ideal conditions last week in Colorado for the Eastern Conference final. If they can do it, so can we.

Passionate fans

Regardless of the weather, it will be a stretch to predict a full house Sunday. That’s a shame. Toronto is the finest, most passionate soccer community in Major League Soccer.

A sold-out, party scene like no other would show off our city, our fan base, and our enthusiasm for the game like no previous match on local soil has done before. An inauspicious Cup final is what we’re left with; until Toronto FC has a home playoff date or our national team plays a match of any consequence.

Toronto organizers are still calling for a sell-out Sunday. Paul Beirne, Toronto FC director of business operations, told the Toronto Sun the game officially “sold-out” last week, yet tickets will continue to be rolled out up until game-time. Beirne also said organizers expect the full allotment of tickets set aside for Colorado Rapids supporters to be swooped up, while FC Dallas supporters are expected to leave a small number of allotted tickets unclaimed.

Next question: How many disgruntled Toronto FC supporters are going to show? Many supporters are still peeved about the Cup tickets inclusion in next year’s season-ticket package. MLSE concessions softened the blow, but four years of futility on the field still resonates.

Duane Rollins, author of 24thminute.com, believes most in the U-Sector Supporters Group have tickets and will attend. Whether the majority of the Red Patch Boys show up is up in the air. Most supporters, despite their apprehensions about supporting the event, have genuine interest in Major League Soccer and recognize the opportunity to see a Cup final (and maybe even some decent soccer) is not one to pass on.

The casual fan is much less likely to attend the match. As always with TFC, the curious masses are left out of the loop when it comes to the dissemination of information. Most Torontonians just assume the game is sold out. Aside from a few banners along the Gardiner Expressway, there has been little publicity the game is even coming.

Good news for those looking to get in on the Cup final; tickets are still available on Ticketmaster, and a lot of them. But they don’t come cheap — surprise, surprise.

As of Wednesday night at 7 p.m., six tickets, all seated together, could still be purchased in section 106, row 31 for a whopping $128.25 a pop.

And if it’s a group of four you’re looking for, section 222, row 10 has your name all over it, for a staggering $160.25 per ticket; a ridiculous price point for an MLS Cup final.

If you want the cheapest ticket in the house, only singles are available with the best being in section 113, row 9, with a price tag of $60.25. And if you’re a couple, bump yourself up a ticket price category and pay $64.25 for section 104, row 28.

No matter how you cut it, the sky-high prices of the remaining tickets will prevent the majority from being sold. Ten thousand tickets were sold game-week ahead of the 2009 MLS Cup in Seattle. But that was thanks to David Beckham’s participation. Toronto has no Beckham to sell.

Seattle drew 46,011 last year, with tickets priced between $16 and $85.

Toronto will be lucky to draw 21,000; obviously stadium size is part of that equation, but so is pricing.

Beirne says the tickets are priced fairly. TFC claims its pricing is in-line with the prices of the Toronto entertainment scene — simply because we’re Toronto, it’s going to cost more.

The stadium will be full Sunday, one way or another. The organization will paper the house, getting tickets in the hands of sponsors and partners.

Whether the MLS Cup in Toronto is a rousing success or otherwise, MLS will still move forward in discussion whether the championship game should remain at a neutral site or be played on the home field of the top MLS playoff seed.

If MLS prefers the latter, get out and see Sunday’s final, no matter the weather or price; it may be awhile before the MLS Cup returns.


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