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Soccer Econ 101, MLS Cup Version: Going to the Game, or Selling Your Tickets?

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qwest_field_crowdThe lineup is set! LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake at Qwest Field Nov. 22. It's Ticket C for season ticket holders.

Because how often do we get to go to a championship match for free? (Or...well, not free, exactly. But you know what I mean.)

Of course, not everybody is thrilled by this matchup. The biggest turnoff, of course, is that Seattle won't be there. So the decision to be made is: Go to the game, give the tickets away, or sell them to the highest bidder?

First, the case for attending the game:
We, as season ticket holders, represent Seattle and Qwest Field to MLS and the TV audience. We show up (preferably in rave green), we cheer, and we show Seattle in its best light even though our beloved team isn't playing. This could, in theory, increase the odds that Seattle will be shown favoritism for future stuff. Like another MLS Cup game. Or an All-Star game. Or a USMNT game. Or...dare we say it...World Cup 2018?

Something to think about.

But not everybody will be sold on this idea, especially for a game four days before Thanksgiving. In Seattle, in November, when we've probably already used up all our good weather karma. Some folks are going to prefer to sell their tickets. So how's that market looking?

If you're looking simply at asking prices -- the prices the sellers are requesting to give up their tickets -- the answer is "good." Asking prices on StubHub are ranging from 200% of list price up to 400% and above. People with seats close to the amazing midline seats I stumbled into (list price $35) are asking from $150 to $400 apiece.

But how much are they actually getting for these seats?

Stub Hub's most recent sales as of 11/16/09.

Lower Level 127 U Buy Any Quantity 5 11/16/09 $60
Lower Level 127 U Buy Any Quantity 3 11/16/09 $60
Lower Level 127 V Buy Any Quantity 6 11/16/09 $53
320 Terrace A 5 11/16/09 $58
332 G 3 11/16/09 $32
334 M 2 11/16/09 $48
148 (food/drink inclusive) C (3rd row) 2 11/16/09 $125
Club level 211 S 2 11/16/09 $65
240 Under Cover X 3 11/16/09 $46
214 A 2 11/16/09 $50
119 EE 2 11/16/09 $68
Lower Level 127 V Buy Any Quantity 5 11/16/09 $53
CLB211 W 2 11/16/09 $75
108 U 2 11/16/09 $125
119 - Great Seats! D 1 11/16/09 $150
135 D 2 11/16/09 $168
144 T 1 11/15/09 $45
240 Under Cover X 2 11/15/09 $56
Lower Level 127 U Buy Any Quantity 2 11/15/09 $60
126 DD 2 11/15/09 $70
*All prices are per-ticket

The only sale close to my seats was for $125 each. Not $400, but still over three times their face value.

Keep in mind, though, that we're less than a week out. The closer we get to the game, the more prices are going to drop. And with Seattle out, there are already a LOT of tickets on the market. Some of those tickets are going to sell, and some are going to sell for high prices. But I don't know of any way to make sure that your tickets are among the chosen few.

What this means is that, try as you might to sell, you may end up with tickets to a game you're not 100% sold on attending. If that happens, do your fellow fans a favor: Please do not simply forget about the tickets that are currently sitting in your "special stuff" file just because Seattle's season is over. Scalp them. Or give them away, even if it's to that guy at work you're not too crazy about, or to your boss's sister's best friend's cousin.

Or better yet, go yourself. Have a beer. Enjoy the pinnacle of MLS success in 2009.

empty stadium Because let's be honest here: Beckham will be here, in his first MLS final ever. (Because better late than never.) And with him will come the international spotlight. And that spotlight will also be shining on Qwest, and on Seattle. And we're the ones who have control over the picture that international audience will see.

It would be great if the view wasn't one of empty seats.