I went to the Chelsea vs. Liverpool match at the Rose Bowl yesterday and left feeling conflicted. There I was, watching two of the most storied teams in the world duke it out in Los Angeles (Pasadena, but tomato tomäto) in a mostly empty stadium.
You’d think that in LA, the entertainment capital of the world, a place filled with rich people and Mexican-Americans (who, objectively, tend to like soccer more than their Caucasian Angeleno counterparts), would be salivating over a Chelsea vs. Liverpool match.
I mean, this is a place where you have to wait in line to get a parking spot at the grocery store.
But as kickoff came and went, the seats never filled up. I’m not talking about one or two seats here and there, I’m talking about swaths of thousands of seats, entire sections, completely empty.
And you know why? Because they’re charging way too much money. The cheapest seats are $80 (plus fees). Parking is $60. Beers are $12 (the ones in the stadium, not the parking lot). Maybe if it were a league game, and the teams were competing for real (besides Fabregas, he was going hard), you could justify those prices.
But it’s preseason, and these guys are going at 60%, tops.
Tournaments like the International Champions Cup (and Copa America, for that matter) could serve as a testament to the growing popularity of soccer here in the States. Stadiums full, fans juiced, everyone happy.
Instead, they’ve priced out just about everyone.
If tickets were $30, there wouldn’t be an empty seat in the house. It would be like, I don’t know, a real European soccer game.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that these preseason tours of America by the world’s top clubs aren’t a goodwill mission to increase brand awareness and stimulate the growth of the game, but a shameless money grab.
By exercising just a little restraint, promoters could create a win-win situation where everyone makes money and stadiums are packed.
Instead, they’re offering a shittier version of a premium product at an inflated price.
They’re not coming to share The Beautiful Game, they’re coming for your lunch money.