BY JESSICA HOCH
The Portland Timbers have snagged 1,000 season ticket deposits over the past 10 days for their 2011 Major League Soccer inaugural season, according to Chris Metz, Vice President of Communications. The Timbers announced their MLS season ticket information last week, coinciding with the start of the 2010 World Cup, and what's turned out to be a frenzy of U.S. soccer buzz as the mens team squeezed its way out of the first round of competition.
The deposits are $50 per seat and are required for anyone wanting season tickets who doesn't already have minor league Timbers season tickets. Current ticket holders will get first priority for seats on June 28 starting at 9 a.m. Seat-selection for existing 2010 Timbers half-season and flex plan holders begins Monday, July 19, at 9 a.m and the seat-selection process for the MLS 2011 depositors will begin Wednesday, July 21, at 9 a.m. Tickets will be available to the general public on Monday, Aug. 2, at 9 a.m.
Season ticket prices range from $99 to $1500. The Timbers have been averaging about 8500 fans per game thus far in the 2010 season.
Metz said the team has seen "a considerable spike in sales over the last week and half." But it's too early to judge whether the greater Portland area will generate a fan base strong enough to support a MLS team and quiet objections to the $31 million public-private retrofit of city-owned PGE park. The Portland Timbers will join the MLS in 2011 as an expansion team along with the Vancouver B.C. White Caps. Both newcomers will be hard-pressed to compete with the Seattle Sounders.
Soccer has become a huge money maker in Seattle. Our neighbors to the north have already put up impressive figures in their first two seasons, with 22,000 season tickets sold their inaugural season and 32,000 for the 2010 season. The Sounders averaged over 30,000 fans a game in 2009 at Quest Stadium and have increased capacity to 36,400 this year and have sold out every game. Chris Baretta, ticket sales representative for the Seattle Sounders, said the situation in Portland is different because capacity at PGE Park is dramatically lower. "I would say since they have a 20,000 capacity that having 12 or 13,000 season tickets would be a success for them," said Baretta.
Timbers supporters like the more intimate history of PGE and the team has already experienced a surge in support over the last several years. The "Timbers Army" already has a reputation for around the country for their chants, flags and match-day rowdiness. The Timbers are trying to build buzz around the community after announcing the new logo at half time of the US vs. England World Cup game. It’s all speculation until the inaugural season kicks off in April of 2011. Then we will see if Soccer City USA can solidify its place on the map.
Jessica Hoch is an online reporter for Oregon Business.