Monday, April 16, 2012

Money, money, money

A recent thread at the Voyageurs forums was started by a member complaining that the CSA had set the prices too low for the 4 national team matches to be played in Toronto this summer and fall. The gist of the discussion was that the association was leaving much needed funds on the table by setting prices below what the market will bear.

Some of the logic was spurious. For one, calculations of missed profits were made based upon the idea of a full house at BMO for all matches. Here are the attendance figures for all Canada matches ever held at BMO Field:

Date Opponent Type Att.
Sep 12, 07 Costa Rica Friendly 9325
Aug 20, 08 Jamaica WCQ 21978
Sep 4, 10 Peru Friendly 10619
Jun 1, 11
Sep 2, 11 St Lucia WCQ 11500
Oct 11, 11 Puerto Rico WCQ 12178
Nov 15, 11 St Kitts WCQ 10235

Admittedly, the World Cup qualifiers to be played in 2012 and the glamour friendly against the USA ought to be bigger draws than Latin American friendly opponents and early-round small fry, but a sellout that does not rely on an enormous away support to pack the stands is no sure thing.

The prices the CSA is charging for the matches range from $25 to $50 ($30 to $55 for the USA friendly). By way of comparison, those same seats cost $27 to $97 on a single-game basis when TFC are playing.

An argument for value can be made. Canada's WCQ matches will be the highest quality of football to be played at BMO Field this season. The outcomes are of far greater importance. The stakes all over the pitch are much higher.

Yet a quick glance around the world shows that price points for international football are lower than the value argument would suggest. Prices are also typically lower than for the club matches played in the same arenas. Here's a sampling:

Country Opponent City Type Min* Max* Source
Netherlands Bulgaria Amsterdam Friendly $31 $81 [source]
USA Scotland Jacksonville Friendly $22 $68 [source]
Costa Rica Mexico San Jose WCQ $30 $50 [source]
France various various Friendly $26 $112 [source]
England Belgium London Friendly $32 $87 [source]
all prices in CAD; some VIP/box seating not included

I was quite intentional with these selections. All the host countries are (arguably, perhaps, in the case of Costa Rica) better teams than Canada. All, save Costa Rica, are as wealthy, or wealthier. With the possible exception of the USA, soccer has a larger profile in those countries.

And yet the prices are almost exactly in line with what Canada is charging. I'd certainly pay an extra 20%, rooting interests aside, to watch the Oranje rather than Dwayne De Rosario dribble the ball into traffic.

The proof in the pudding is in the eating. The only proof the Voyageurs poster could offer that the prices were set too low is if demand outstrips supply. For now, this hardly seems likely. The CSA's priority ought to be to pack the stands with Canadian fans.

Turning a profit is a secondary concern to creating winning conditions; the real windfall would be the 5 extra home dates if Canada could pull off a miracle and qualify for the Hex.

My own feeling is that, especially with TFC getting GTA-based footie fans in a foul mood, tickets will be a tough sell. That's why the soccer community needs to get out and do more of this:

As usual, I'll be watching the games from home. A job that provides 2 months of summer vacation does not allow for the necessary vacation days to get to Toronto and back. But I hope you're there.


Peter said...

Your glaring omission is Ecuador.

J said...

Good point, Peter. That was pretty glaring. The attendance number was actually higher than I had remembered.

Anonymous said...

If you have 2 months vacation and you feel that 2 months is not enough to take a few days to get to Toronto and back then you must be pretty spoiled. I hope you meant 2 weeks.

J said...

I agree very much that I'm spoiled by my two months of vacation. But I'm a teacher, and those vacation days are set. July, August. Personal days during the year are had to come by (ie: near impossible); midweek games would be a no go, as would Fridays.