As the MLS season approaches its final stretch, the league’s teams are finishing up their renewal processes for 2018 season tickets. Since joining MLS, Orlando City has seen phenomenal success at the gate, a trend that continued in 2017 when the club opened its own stadium. But, as with any business, when the demand is high, prices will increase, and some fans may notice that increase for the 2018 season.
Depending on where you sit in the stadium, you likely will either see an increase in your season ticket price, or your ticket may be cheaper. The 2017 season was a testing season for Orlando City in many ways as it pertains to its new stadium. That includes ticket prices. Despite the club stating, “We don’t see it as a price increase,” the 2018 season will see increases in every section of the stadium except the supporters section and the uncovered corners.
The lowest increase of the new pricing scale will occur on the south end of the stadium at the upper level where tickets will increase by $1.60 per game. The most significant increases will come in the premium sideline seats and at the club level with all other increases being around $4.00 or less. The field level on the west side will see an increase of $5.33 per game, while the east side premium will raise $6.92 per game. The biggest rise in prices is the 100 club level, costing $10.65 more per game.
“With this type of demand, the expectation is that prices will increase,” Orlando City Chief Revenue Officer Chris Gallagher said. “But we want to keep them in check.”
Despite the immense popularity of the stadium’s marquee feature, a 3,811 capacity safe-standing section known as “The Wall,” prices will stay the same and Gallagher said that was a decision that came from the top. “(Chairman and Majority Owner) Flavio (Augusto da Silva) and (CEO) Alex (Leitao) said they didn’t want the price changed in “The Wall” and nobody argued,” said Gallagher, who added that the club’s ownership feels that section adds to the atmosphere of the game, enough to persuade them to ignore the temptation to charge more for the coveted spots.
While most season ticket holders will see an increase in their season ticket price for 2018, fans have not been deterred from renewing their season tickets. The club will see a 93 percent retention rate from 2017, higher than the 87 percent league average. Gallagher says that the price of tickets wasn’t in the top five reasons why those 1,260 season ticket holders decided not to renew.
An added bonus that Orlando City season ticket holders will see this year is free admission to Orlando City B games. The club gave MLS season ticket holders free access to limited games in 2017 but they will receive access to all games in 2018. The Lions will be following the lead of the Portland Timbers, who did the same thing with their USL side, Timbers 2, this season. Toronto FC will join Orlando City by offering its season ticket holders free access to Toronto FC II games this season as well.
The decision to add this incentive comes at a time when there is a clear division between MLS-owned USL teams and independently-owned USL teams as to the importance of attendance figures. OCB is averaging 1,268 fans per game this season, near the same number it averaged last year in Melbourne. Despite the small figures, Gallagher says that the move is not an attempt to make up the difference between OCB and other USL teams, but to show appreciation for the MLS season ticket holders and provide a friendlier environment for families.
While Orlando City has struggled on the field, the club has still been quite successful at the gate. This has given the club the ability to raise ticket prices for its second season in the new stadium. Given the strong renewal rate, that hasn’t seemed to deter fans from paying the price to watch the team. While these price increases may be unsettling to some, it’s a consequence of the popularity of the team.