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Survey says...?

Mmmm, empty seats.
Mmmm, empty seats.

It's that time of year again. When the summer nights start to get a little cooler and Toronto FC is miles from a playoff spot, the responsive and customer driven folks at Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment want to hear from you.

Over the last few weeks, many season ticket holders have received a survey asking opinions on various "experiences" at BMO. Inevitably, what follows is a call from a well meaning ticket representative who undoubtedly has one of the toughest jobs in the city; being the face of MLSE.

If you haven't made your decision on renewing, I'd like to take a look at one of the offerings that may be on the table for you to consider for the upcoming season. Sadly, it does not appear that Tom Anselmi is stepping out of Toronto FC's reporting structure at this point in time.

However, it is rumoured that there will be a price freeze on tickets for next year as well as half price concessions for those that arrive prior to kickoff may be on the table.

If this materializes, is this the move of a responsive organization that finally gets it? Or is it, like the Vision we were sold last year and abandoned in June of this year, simply another hollow, optic driven move of an out of touch organization?

Before I can answer that, I need to tell you that wherever your seats are at BMO Field, you are paying more than fans in almost every other MLS city.

I broke this down for Sportsnet back in May. If you want to see the methodology, I'd invite you to review that article and the discussion that ensued.

Generally speaking here is where you pair of seats rank vs the MLS average by vantage point at BMO:


Rank vs MLS Team Prices

$/pair above MLS Average




Centre Line



Off Centre Line (Dark Grey)



Corner Seats



North End






Now that you know how overpriced your tickets are, I need to tell you something else about why they are considering a price freeze and this concession concession (can you say concession twice?) Why would they discount food and not tickets?

Aside from the fact that this offer on food is much like a rebate in that most folks won't take advantage of it and it will cost them relatively little, MLSE knows something else.

It is somewhat common knowledge that BMO Field is operated under a joint management agreement between the City of Toronto, the CSA and MLSE. We have been told that the revenue is shared. Do you know how much of it is shared? And what specifically is shared?

According to the original BMO Field Management Agreement, MLSE keeps just 25% of concession sales. However, they keep a whooping 93% of ticket sales for MLS games. And that 7% that is leftover gets put into a "Stadium" fund that they also share in at the end of the day.

See the sleight of hand here? They can provide the optics of decreasing my cost to attend a game without any impact on their main revenue stream.

If MLSE truly gets it, forget the half price concessions. Offer a meaningful reset on ticket prices and take us to the MLS average price.

Set aside the idea that fans would pay for a winning product. Disposable income is not tied to wins and losses. I don't suddenly have more money if TFC ever made the playoffs. Tickets have to be priced fair and that pricing needs to be in place for a long time to encourage loyal, repeat customers. You've seen what happens when prices are raised to ridiculous heights over a short time frame.

MLSE has simply outpriced the market. As a result, there is no value in holding a season ticket. Season ticket holders want to go to every game and to do so at a discount, which is why they buy in bulk to guarantee their seat. Since there is no secondary ticket market anymore, fans can get to every game now at a discount higher than what is being given to season ticket holders. Given there is no wait list, one can opt back in years down the road should scarcity ever become an issue.

For me, when that Rep calls me to ask what it would take to renew, my answer is a simple one-two.

One. Without that price reset, I'm out when it comes to season tickets for next year. I'll still get to almost every game and will be doing so at a discount far greater than MLS is offering by way of a price freeze.

Two. In a story for a whole other blog, Tom Anselmi must step aside from the organizational structure and install a President with his own football vision.

Make those things happen and I'm in.