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|Tuesday, December 21, 2010|
By Corey Paul
UPDATE (Jan. 3, 2011): Indeed, the Timbers have surpassed 10,000 season ticket sales, the team announced Monday. Also, the team decided upon the 12,000 cap, and all 23 suites have been sold on a multi-year basis. Remaining season tickets start at $18 per game.
The Portland Timbers expect to surpass 10,000 season tickets sold by the end of the year in advance of their inaugural season as a Major League Soccer franchise.
By way of comparison, the Vancouver Whitecaps' sales boomed since the team was granted MLS status in March 2009. A week after that announcement, the Whitecaps began selling season ticket deposits. The Timbers chose a similar strategy, selling 1,000 deposits in 10 days. But the Whitecaps sold 5,000 in 48 hours. Demand was high enough early-on, says President Bob Lenarduzzi, for the Whitecaps to set a season ticket cap of 16,500 for its 20,000 seat stadium. That's about the same capacity as the renovated PGE Park.
It remains to be seen whether the Portland area can generate a long-term fan base for an MLS team. Soccer in America is growing, and Vancouver, of course, is in Canada.
Both the Whitecaps and the Timbers look to Seattle as they launch their seasons in the big league. There, MLS soccer proved a moneymaker in the 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 Qwest Stadium, then increased capacity to 36,400 and sold out every game in 2010.
Corey Paul is an associate writer for Oregon Business.
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After first visiting as tourists, entrepreneurs relocate to Oregon and spur economic growth.