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Your Ticket Please, Part III: A Little Something On The Side

In the last part of this 3 part series, Adam Merges takes a look at the benefits that come with CF97 season tickets and compares them to a few teams in the MLS and in Europe

Not necessarily included in your season ticket package: The cooling shade of a megabandera.
Not necessarily included in your season ticket package: The cooling shade of a megabandera.

We should all be familiar with this concept - the more you pay, the more you get. Basically the pricier your season ticket with the Fire, the better the benefits. Here are the Sounders, Crew, and Union season ticket benefits.

The Union benefits: -Guaranteed seats for 20 Union games at PPL Park (17 regular season matches, plus 3 bonus games),- Save up to 35% off of single game ticket prices,- Ability to participate in the Union Season Ticket Holder Loyalty Rewards Program,- Personalized Full Season Ticket Membership Card,- Option to purchase priority full season parking pass that offers per match savings of up to $7 a game,- First right to renew your season seats (reducing the number of seats on your account may require a relocation),- Access to exclusive season ticket holder gifts,- Invitations to season ticket holder events,- Discounted merchandise and concessions (on purchases made using your season ticket card),- First right to purchase tickets for any home playoff matches at a preferred season ticket holder price,- Ability to forward your game tickets through an online account manager ,- Access to the Philadelphia Union Ticket Marketplace to re-sell tickets to games you cannot attend (excluding Supporter Section seats),-A dedicated service representative to assist you with your season ticket experience,- Post-game access to an the PPL Park Stadium Club (card carrying season ticket holders only), · Exclusive pre-game and in-game access to Stadium Club,- Complimentary full season parking pass (one pass per account),- In-seat food and beverage service.

Did you soak all of that in? That was just one team's benefit package; if you clicked through the links, you'd see that Seattle and Columbus offer basically the same benefits to their season ticket holders except for the "Alliance" membership with Seattle. Also Seattle does not offer a ticket exchange program like the Fire or Crew. The Fire, on the other hand, offer more to their season ticket holders than the Crew or Sounders. What other team offers their club ticket holders a personalized authentic jersey? I do know for a fact that Seattle doesn't offer discounted parking for their season ticket holders due to the stadium location.

In my opinion, only the Union have season ticket benefits comparable with the Fire. The one thing that I think is a good idea that the Union offers is its "Loyalty Rewards Program," linked above. Give it a read, it is actually quite interesting. The Union offers the chance for their season ticket holders to accumulate points throughout the season which can be used for various team auctions and other events depending on how many points you accumulate. This would be a great idea for the Fire, who could surely improve upon it.

Now how does this compare with teams in Europe? For most of the team's I looked at, there aren't really specific benefits for being a season ticket holder. Most of the packages are just for the league tickets and right of first refusal for away and cup games(be it European or domestic cups). Borussia Dortmund offers all 17 home games plus all 3 home UEFA Champions League games in their packages. Manchester United offers a book with theirs as well as different classifications for how many years you have had season tickets. Barcelona, arguably the world's most popular team, doesn't offer any benefits but does offer a league ticket and a complete season ticket. The league ticket is for league games only and the complete ticket is for all home matches that FC Barcelona plays. Now the interesting thing about Barcelona is that you must be a club member first before even being considered for a season ticket. Once a season ticket becomes available that member who becomes a new season ticket holder must pay for 6 seasons up front and that payment is non-refundable. Could any team in the MLS do that? No chance. Like the Fire, most teams in Europe do offer payment plans, but some charge an up-front fee in order to make those payments interest-free.

Overall the benefits offered by cf97 meet or surpass the season-ticket benefits offered by other MLS teams and even teams from more established teams in Europe. Yes, it is really hard to compare the history of the Fire to those teams like Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona, but for a team that is going into its 17th year the benefits you get for holding that season ticket is great. Someday the club might decide to no longer have season ticket benefits and go the route that European teams are doing. That is the day when the Chicago Fire has a season ticket waiting list and is one of the more established teams in the world. I am a season ticket holder and have been one since graduating college in 2002 (but I have been going to games since 98), for me what the Fire offer in terms of price and benefits cannot be beat. As long as the Fire remain competitive with their season ticket packages I will remain a season ticket holder for years to come.