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Our City: The Importance of Season Ticket Holders for Orlando City and MLS

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Season ticket renewals went out this week. Going into their second MLS season the Lions will look to sell out their allotment of season tickets again. Just how important is being a season ticket holder to the fans and the club?

Our City is a weekly column dedicated to the fans and supporter's perspectives of Orlando City. Any feedback, comments, or questions? Find Kevin Mercer on Twitter @KevinMercer225

Orlando City season ticket renewals went out this week, along with the announcement that the club would increase the number of available season tickets from 14,000 to 18,000. This announcement sent both present day season ticket holders and those on the waiting list to inquire with our bank accounts, friends, or significant others as we start to plan for next season.

The rumors I've heard out of the club have the renewals at extremely high rates, meaning the new 4,000 season tickets will most likely be the bulk of what is available to those on the waiting list and wanting to get on it now. Once the club moves to its new stadium and the number of season tickets are capped at 18,000 for good, fans could spend years on a waiting list for season tickets.

Each Orlando City supporter has their own story of how they came to become a part of the impressive fan base that the club has created. From the casuals to the hardcore, the club has a unique place in our hearts. Becoming a season ticket holder is the ultimate expression of that support. It shows your commitment to having a top level professional organization representing your city on a national and international level.

For me personally, becoming a season ticket holder for a top level soccer club in my city is a dream come true. After a lifetime of watching clubs in Europe, feeling the amazing atmosphere through a TV screen with most of my goal celebrations being solo dances around an early morning living room, I can never even fully express what it means to have a club of my own. Just to be able to feel the atmosphere, to celebrate goals with my friends, and to have these weekly reasons to tailgate and get good people together has been fantastic. It is the reason everybody gets excited for game day.

These experiences are of course for anybody who has a ticket for the game. You don't have to be a season ticket holder to appreciate all the benefits having an MLS club in Orlando has provided. Season ticket holders are just the ultimate expression of that supporter experience -- a different level of membership if you will.

The importance of being a season ticket holder also reflects the success of the club to the rest of the league. As I've often said, money, not wins and losses or goals, are the most important statistic in American soccer. Because of the history of the game, through the ups and downs of the NASL years, and the rocky start MLS had in Florida, attendance and season ticket sales will always be the grade by which soccer is judged in America. This applies to other sports as well, but the microscope always seems to be a bit more focused on soccer.

The truth is, Major League Soccer isn't the English Premier League or the NFL. While there has been a nice run of form from the league in terms of big name players, new expansion teams, and solid attendance, MLS is not an institution. It could very easily fold within a few years with a bad run of attendance. Likely, of course not, but absolutely possible.

This makes the commitment of fans and season ticket holders a crucial aspect of both the league and Orlando City. Without the supporters, a stadium clad in purple could be relegated to memory and history.