A match with a team like the MLS champions Galaxy (and their Beckham-fueled celebrity bubble) draws attention and provokes emotion. A strong market should be able to draw a crowd for a game of this stature, but fans are always worried of being overtaken by the rush, of being betrayed by Vancouver casuals there to see the other guy, not the team supporters want them to love.
It was announced two days before the game that all 21,000 tickets had sold out, only the third such match this season. (The other two were the home opener against Montreal and the Seattle match in May.) The controversial point was that, of course, B.C. Place holds much more than 21,000 people. With the upper bowl open, it holds 58,941 people. With just the tarps in the lower bowl pulled, it holds 27,000 for soccer. 48,172 showed up at the old B.C. Place to gawk when LA played the Div 2 Whitecaps in 2007. So why stop the tickets?
One argument, made by the Whitecaps and many fans, goes that it needed to be done for marketing reasons–that Vancouver casuals needed to know that if they really wanted to get in, they had to buy seasons tickets. Another argument, made eloquently by Ben Massey, goes that taxpayer dollars funded the damn stadium, and it’s dirty pool for the Whitecaps to put tarps over seats, keep fans out and still call it a sellout.
I’m no Vancouver casual! But I am too broke for season’s tickets, and I got caught in the wilderness. Roughly $20-$50 were being added onto the face value of tickets on gameday, with some tickets going for as much as $400 for a pair in the purple sections. After days fervently refreshing Craigslist and a frankly pitiful “tickets wanted” post, I managed to nick one at face value, getting the actual ticket minutes before kickoff. Much love to the guy that let me stand by his seat in the Southside, rather than forcing me to take mine in the north end.
So, how did the experience make me feel? Clearly, this was a hot ticket to get. And though people were still in to gawk at Beckham, Galaxy jerseys were rare. Vancouverites were in the Whitecaps’ corner.
It is good that people, myself included, thought of this experience as special. But the Whitecaps should do something to ensure that people with money can fill seats. If they operated a centralized reselling system that moved tickets at face value with a nominal fee, they could retain that feeling of demand while picking fans over scalpers.