It’s the height of the NFL season, but a massive football game is taking place this weekend and not on the gridiron. On Saturday, December 8, Atlanta United will host the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup Final. While soccer may not have the cachet of other North American professional sports, you wouldn’t know that from the secondary ticket market; this year’s final has one of the highest average resale prices –$378 —in league history.
Historically, secondary market ticket prices for most MLS Cup Finals have hovered in the same range. Since 2011, that range has stretched between $200 and $400. The only outlier was the 2016 match when Toronto FC hosted the Seattle Sounders; that season was when years of effort came to fruition and Toronto fans were willing to pay an average resale price of $626 to see their team’s shot at the title.
This year’s average resale price, the third highest since 2011, is likely due to Atlanta United’s strong home support. Ever since they entered the league 2017, had no trouble filling large stadiums; they began their life playing in Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium before moving into Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Those same fervent supporters who pack an NFL-sized stadium for an ordinary regular season game are likely a factor in the secondary ticket market.
The Five Stripe’s support does not come down to novelty, however. Despite being a newer franchise, they play fantastic attacking soccer. Josef Martinez has scored nearly a goal per game over his two seasons in Atlanta while Miguel Almiron pulls the strings behind him; it could also be the latter’s final game in the MLS, as he has been attracting attention from Europe.
On the other side of the pitch, the Timbers are not as explosive as their east coast counterparts, but they do boast their own pair of talented South Americans. Diego Valeri has been one of the league’s best players since he came to the MLS in 2013 and Sebastian Blanco has potted a team-leading 13 goals this year.
As you would assume for a championship match-up between two quality clubs, tickets are sold out on the primary market. But, despite that fact and the high average price on the secondary market, you can actually get into the stadium for a reasonable amount. The current get-in price for this weekend’s match is $175. That’s still on the higher side of the historical spectrum, but it’s tough to complain about paying less than half of the average resale price. It’s worth noting, though, that the cheapest tickets will only get you in the building for standing room; a seat will cost you a little more, with the cheapest available beginning at $180 and increasing from there.
On the whole, the MLS Cup Final looks to be a win-win for everyone involved. The league—especially the Atlanta front office—will be thrilled that the game is sold out despite taking place in a football stadium. The secondary market confirms what supporters have been seeing for the past couple of years: Atlanta can definitely support a professional soccer team.
American soccer fans will also get to see an exciting game in what should be an unmatched atmosphere; ticket prices might be a little higher than usual, but you’re still seeing a league championship for under $200 per person. If you’re a supporter of either team, it’s hard to argue with that.