Preseason training continues as scheduled for the Revs. They have just shipped off to Florida to take part in several friendly tune-up matches ahead of their season opener at Charlotte FC on February 25th.
In the meantime, there’s plenty to keep us distracted. A trio of Revs players made appearances for their respective national teams. Dejuan Jones got his first USMNT cap against Djordje Petrovic’s Serbia. Dylan Borerro got some time as a central midfielder for his native Colombia.
Perhaps more important than all of that, however, was Revolution President Brian Bilello getting into a twitter spat with supporters about season-member amenities.
Not every change/investment is a direct gift/amenity for members. Sometimes it’s more investment in services to improve the experience, staff to provide better servicing, etc. this year we’re adding the Apple MLS Season Pass which will be great for members.
— Brian Bilello (@RevsPrez) January 20, 2023
The argument comes hot on the heels of the revelation that several season ticket members seats are being demolished during stadium renovations. Those fans will now need to relocate their seats.
It’s a bad look from Bilello, who realistically has nothing to gain by responding to twitter complaints. I think the point he’s trying make is that ticket revenues go toward supporting a variety of in-stadium services, not just adding new experiences for season ticket holders. This could be increasing gameday staff, increasing staff wages, upgrading infrastructure etc. That, on it’s face, is a reasonable claim.
Where he loses me, a bit, is by suggesting that the addition of MLS Season Pass for STMs is some great act of generosity from the Revs front office. It is, after all, a league-mandated, league-wide benefit to help promote their new streaming service on Apple TV. All teams offer that. All of them. Every single one. As far as I know, it wasn’t an option to not offer that amenity.
Needless to say, it wasn’t particularly well received on twitter.
Revs Benefits vs The League
All of this commotion got me thinking. What is the value proposition the Revolution are providing to their season ticket members? How do member amenities stack up against other clubs in the league? Are those benefits worth the cost of admission?
Now before proceeding any further, let me be clear: nobody is paying me to write this.
I think that’s important to say for 2 reasons.
The first reason is that I’m not ‘stumping’ for anyone. I went into this exercise with no agenda. I did not set out to defend the Revolution’s season ticket amenities or their prices.
The second reason I mention this is to justify the very low effort I put into researching all the teams. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to find and use the best info available. Unfortunately, MLS teams are under no obligation to provide their season ticket info in an easy to find/digest sort of way. If the info wasn’t easily viewable on the teams website, I wasn’t going to spend all day tracking it down. And I certainly wasn’t going to call anyone. On the phone. In 2023.
I bought tickets to one away match in Columbus in 2019 and I still to this day get weekly emails and monthly calls. So yeah, not opening that Pandora’s box again.
The goal is this: Find a season ticket for every team in MLS, list out the included benefits, and make note of the associated cost.
In order to do that in a semi-fair way, I needed to pick a generic seat that every stadium has. Lots of stadiums have differing configurations. Some have seats all the way around, some don’t. Some have multiple levels, others don’t.
In the end, my target was to find a season ticket that satisfied the following conditions.
A) It needed to be as close to midfield as possible. Some stadiums have a single section that spans the midfield line, others split it up into 2 sections. In either case, the seat that was closest to the midfield line was selected.
B) It needed to be as close to the field as possible. Some teams will alter the price by how far from the field you are. Selecting closest to the field ensures eliminates any confusion that price variation may cause.
C) It needed to be on the “team bench” side of the field. The side of the field where the teams and coaches sit while not on the field. Teams will sometimes have different prices on different sides, so this ensures everyone is on a level playing field (no pun intended). In a few limited cases where no price was available for seats on the bench-side, midfield tickets on the opposite side were used.
Ok without further ado, here’s what I found.
Amenities: How do the Revs Stack Up?
Here is a list of all of the major season member benefits I could find on club websites. I say “major” because WOW do clubs like to include run-of-the-mill things as benefits.
Things like “access to a Season Ticket Rep”, or “close access to restrooms” (looking at you SKC). The Revs are equally guilty here with a website that proudly boasts “guaranteed same seat location” for each game. Isn’t that what a season ticket is? Do we need to say that?
Anyways, all of that to say that the remaining, non-trivial amenities have been parsed to combine similar items into categories.
For example if “Club A” says they offer access to an ‘exlusive space after the match’ and “Club B” says they’ll let you into the ‘Members Club inside the stadium’, those were counted as the same amenity.
Of the above amenities, I’ve highlighted those offered by New England in blue.
Fun Tidbits and Caveats
By far, the least exclusive season ticket benefit in the league is “Exclusive Member Events”. I started playing a drinking game where I’d take a shot every time a clubs website touted their exclusive member events as a benefit to season tickets. I’m dead now. 26 of the 28 teams listed some form of “exclusive event” on their season ticket webpage. The other 2 teams probably just forgot to write it down.
Atlanta is the only team whose midfield season tickets include unlimited concessions as a part of the ticket. I’ve included Charlotte there as well, as they give a substantial “concession credit” which provides free food and drink, but isn’t technically unlimited. It’s worth noting that most clubs will allow you to add on a food/drink package to your ticket for an additional fee.
I didn’t include Apple TVs MLS Season Pass because, well, every team is offering that. All of the teams. Every one…
Where the Revs Season Tickets Excel
The biggest benefit is the free parking for Revs games. New England was one of only 4 clubs to mention free parking specifically. An additional 3 clubs provide a discount on parking. Having paid to park at a few other MLS stadiums over the years, paying at a garage or lot can get pricy quickly if you’re attending 17+ matches in a season. It is, of course, also important to note that many clubs have their stadiums much closer to their respective urban centers where public transit is an easy and cost effective means to get to a match.
Ticket exchanges are another good area for Revs season ticket members. Essentially, if a ticket holder can’t make it to a match, they’re allowed to return their tickets to the club and get an equivalent number of additional tickets to a future match. Most clubs did not list this as a benefit on their websites. Of the clubs that did, many limited the number of times you could exchange tickets per season.
Where the Revs Season Tickets Fall Flat
Where they fall flat is by what they no longer offer. It isn’t particularly common in MLS to include a member gift or away tickets. About half of teams offer a gift, and just 4 clubs offer free away tickets or trips. However, these are things the Revolution used to offer to their members. Neither is currently a listed benefit according to their website.
Many clubs offer a small concession discount, which New England could afford to offer. Compared to a lot of other stadiums the food isn’t particularly expensive, but if they were looking to bulk up their offering 5% off food would go a long way.
This is a minor quibble, but a few clubs also offer free MLS Next Pro tickets to season members. MLS Next Pro matches are poorly attended as is, and if you could convince STMs to show up to watch Revs II with a free ticket, you might be able to make up the difference in concession sales.
Value: How do the Revs Stack Up?
Here’s what a season ticket will cost you at each club. As I noted earlier, prices reflect seats as close to midfield on the ‘team bench side’ of the stadium as possible. Some teams don’t have season tickets listed on their websites.
Notes About This Table
Several clubs are completely sold out and require a deposit to join a waitlist, like LAFC and Austin FC.
Other clubs are sold out on the team bench side of the field, like Philadelphia. Union tickets on the opposite side of the field cost about $1254.
Other clubs still, like NYCFC and the newly minted St Louis FC don’t have information available without speaking to a ticketing agent.
A few clubs listed their season ticket costs per game (or per month) without indicating how many of either they would charge. This is tricky in some cases because a few clubs are including Leagues Cup group stage matches in their season tickets which can add 1-2 more matches to the price. Where reasonable, I’ve done the math and provided an estimated cost above.
Charlotte FC is a club that doesn’t list their season long prices, and has professional seat licenses. Only single game tickets are available. Without knowing if they apply a discount to their standard prices for STMs, I didn’t feel comfortable guessing. It’s likely in the ballpark of $2000. What I do know is that a PSL will run you about $900 per seat, up front.
Ticket prices denoted in Red are listed in Maple Pesos, or whatever currency they’re using in Canada these days.
Revs Season Ticket Costs vs The League
While it doesn’t include those teams with limited available information, there’s some good information in the above chart. As should be obvious at a glance, the Revs season tickets are very inexpensive as compared to the rest of the league. At just $820 per season, it’s the second cheapest ticket in MLS using the parameters I listed at the start. Slightly cheaper are those of the Colorado Rapids who charge $817 per season for comparable seats.
So if you have loose fan affiliation and want to save $3, Colorado is the team for you.
Just 4 teams charge less than $1,000 for comparable season tickets, and Vancouver at $981 USD is subject to change at the whim of the exchange rate.
Wrap it up, already, Chart-Boy!
New England offers just 4 of the 11 major season ticket amenities that I noted during this exercise. That’s not a lot, but it’s not exactly a little either. San Jose offered the most major amenities with 6, and Cincinnati offered just 3.
Working against New England, however, is that the amenities they do offer are relatively low cost and low impact. More than that, the high visibility member perks (like season member gifts and away trips) that the Revs used to offer are still fresh in fans minds. Add in the atmosphere for most Revs games at Gillette and there’s an overall impression that the season tickets are of low value.
I can very much understand not wanting to fork over hundreds of dollars for season tickets for an experience that you don’t enjoy. If you want season tickets for the game-day atmosphere, the experience, and the perks then, yeah, New England is a pretty barebones offering. However, if you’re primarily interested in watching the sporting event on the field, there’s no denying the inherent value. With the second cheapest midfield seats in MLS, you can get a front row seat to watch some pretty exciting players. Even if they play for the other team.