Record Demand for MLS Cup Tickets

You know what’s not popular in the United States? Soccer.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching soccer, and all reports indicate the sport’s popularity is increasing in the U.S. But the game still hasn’t made it big on TV. Know how I know? In 2013, NASCAR is more popular. As if that wasn’t depressing enough, soccer doesn’t appear anywhere in the Top 50 Most Viewed Sporting Events of 2013.

Still, there are encouraging signs. For this week’s MLS Cup between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City, fans are paying an average of $211 for a ticket, making it the most in-demand game in league history. The 2011 MLS All-Star Game at Red Bull Arena, featuring the MLS All Stars vs. Manchester United, had previously drawn an average resale price of $208 per ticket. Tickets to Saturday’s match originally sold for between $30 and $150 at face value, but right now the cheapest tickets available on the resale market are standing room only for just under $100 a piece. Seats at midfield are going for nearly $300 each, with some closest to the field commanding as much as $450.

Demand is higher for MLS Cup tickets than for any other sporting event in Kansas City over the past five years aside from the 2012 MLB All-Star Game (average resale price of $546 per ticket). My favorite part? The Chiefs’ home game against the Broncos this past Sunday was their most expensive since the start of the 2009 season at an average resale price of $164 per ticket; the average ticket to the 2013 MLS Cup costs 29% more. Take that, NASCAR. MLS is officially coming for you. No but seriously, MLS is doing well. Prices for the match are up 50% from last year’s MLS Cup between the Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center, which drew an average resale price of $141 per ticket. Compared to the 2011 match, which featured the same teams and saw a $128 average ticket price, prices are up 65%. Annnd boom goes the dynamite.

The average ticket price for Saturday’s match is nearly five times that of an average Sporting Kansas City home game this year. The team had the second-highest average ticket price in MLS this season at $43 per ticket behind only the Portland Timbers ($59). Who’s driving up these ticket prices? Based on traffic to SeatGeek’s MLS Cup event page, it’s the home crowd for this Saturday. A majority of traffic has come from Kansas and Missouri (65%), while 15% has come from Real Salt Lake’s home state of Utah.

So while Kansas City and Salt Lake fans will be rooting hard for their respective team this Saturday, soccer fans everywhere should be encouraged by this boost in ticket price. After all, it’s a quantifiable sign that the sport’s popularity is indeed growing in the U.S.

2013 MLS Cup Tickets