The social media trolls have more – uh, sub-bridge gold? to mine? Having a real tough time forming coherent metaphors this morning. Anyway, Sam Stejskal reports in The Athletic that Nashville SC has sold only 5,000 season tickets to date. From Sam’s story:
While there is some concern at the league office, one of the sources said that Nashville are not overly worried about the pace of their season ticket sales. The source noted that Nashville is a city that is traditionally late to the market when it comes to buying tickets for sports and other events.
There’s much more there, including more context to where those numbers fit into the grand scheme. Sam’s sources are unnamed, but given the rest of his reporting in the story – on other topics – comes from the MLS Board of Governors meeting, you can safely assume it’s from the league’s end. I have heard higher numbers from the Nashville end of things (though not higher in a way that seriously moves the needle – in the 6,100-ticket range), for what it’s worth.
I have sought club comment, but am not expecting to get any statement through official channels.
So, what should we think of this? First of all, I’m the last to care about how a number grants (or denies) the opportunity to crow on social media about it. Just isn’t meaningful to me. Dudes who cheered for the worst team in MLS history who want to lean on that club’s butts-in-seats number rather than the thing that, you know, counts… go for it.
Still, a number that’s barely clearing 15% of the expected soccer capacity (no upper decks) of just over 40,000 for Nissan Stadium can be concerning nonetheless.
It raises questions about marketing, pricing, and community engagement. I’ve raised many of them before, and rehashing them all isn’t worthwhile, but missteps in roster inaugural-season roster build, marketing and pricing in the second USL season – not so much for that year, but in an attempt to build goodwill going into the MLS season ticket push – and in messaging and pricing around the 2020 season tickets and the parking situation at Nissan Stadium. Some of those questions may have answers that are resolved with little fanfare or struggle, some may be a little more persistent and worrying (no public messaging about possibly defraying the cost of parking passes that are more expensive than the tickets themselves is A Problem). Some probably already have been resolved, with major turnover on the business and marketing sides of the club’s front office since the USL season ended.
Nonetheless, a Nashville fanbase that’s been criticized for not “earning” its place in MLS (the king of dumb arguments: for example, a Phoenix Rising VP should know better than anyone – what with all the failed attempts to do so – that anyone does not simply buy an MLS franchise) certainly has more fodder to push back against. I’d recommend not doing it against the FC Cincinnati trolls on Twitter.
The club’s season-ticket sales did see boosts at the end of the USL season, and again the week of the home-opener announcement and Expansion Draft. I would expect that trend to continue. Schedule release? Bump. Kit reveal? Bump. As followers of US Youth International Teams like to say “this is just a snapshot in time.” NSC’s season-ticket sales 85 days out from first kick aren’t meaningful. The people who actually show up against Atlanta United Fed. 29 are, and there will be many, many more than 5,000 people attending that one with season tickets in-hand.
What can you as a fan do? Complaining about it certainly doesn’t solve anything. Try to sell friends and family on becoming season ticket members. Get out in the community and spread the good word of soccer if that’s your thing. Know people who already like soccer? Let them know about Nashville SC’s upcoming MLS season. If you have concerns about the way the club manages or markets its business, let them know through your ticket rep. Getting into e-fights and being very Angry Online instead of trying to accomplish an end serves no purpose.