There might not be a more despised brand in the sports world than TicketMaster, the company that controls ticketing for just about every major sports team and major venue in the country. The Seattle Sounders have been no different, much to the constant chagrin of fans who have been quick to complain about everything from TicketMaster’s fee structure to issues with their mobile ticketing.
That’s about to change. Starting next year, the Sounders will do all their ticketing through SeatGeek the team announced on Wednesday. Up until relatively recently, SeatGeek had been mostly known for their secondary-ticketing aggregator. But they’ve now launched SeatGeek Open and become a primary ticket seller. Among their early clients are Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders will become the second MLS team to use the technology and will be joined by New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers and Minnesota United among MLS teams in 2019.
Among the benefits of SeatGeek Open is that tickets can now be sold through third-party apps, as well directly through the team website. As Geekwire pointed out in their story on the move, that means we could potentially see Sounders tickets sold directly through travel and transportation apps like Uber or Airbnb.
“We did copious amounts of due diligence when choosing a ticketing partner,” Sounders Chief Operating Officer Bart Wiley told Sounder at Heart. “We talked to TicketMaster — they served us well for nine years — but we want to be ambitious and innovative. We feel SeatGeek put us in the best position to be innovative, creative, ambitious, and most importantly, that was the company we wanted to work with to make the entire experience as easy and simple as possible for fans.”
A quick glance at Sporting KC’s ticketing page shows a robust system that allows fans to see all the tickets being made available through both the team and the secondary market. It also allows you to see the prices with fees before buying, and even gives you a rating of how much of a value you’re getting.
The Sounders also say there will be improved mobile experience, making it easier to buy, sell, transfer and use digital tickets. The Sounders’ move to digital ticketing hasn’t exactly gone perfectly, but there’s a clear hope that this will help iron out previous problems that have been caused by a variety of sources from their own app to TicketMaster’s servers.
The best part, though, may be the service fees. SeatGeek appears to charge a pretty standard $5 per ticket fee. TicketMaster’s fees are usually at least double that. Although Wiley couldn’t say how that would translate to tickets next year, he did indicate SeatGeek’s backend fee structure is far more straightforward and simple.
“It’s efficient, it’s easy and it’s simple during the entire SeatGeek purchasing experience,” Wiley said. “What we as a business are excited about and what we think fans will ultimately be excited about is that they are a technology company and they’re also a ticketing company.”
That means SeatGeek has the ability to custom-design products for the Sounders, something made more likely by the fact that they are one of only a handful of teams for whom SeatGeek is the primary ticket seller.
“If we come up with an idea that we think will be a fan-friendly idea, we’re going to talk to SeatGeek about it and we’re confident in those conversations leading to areas that are better for fans. What I’m excited about is we now have a partner at the table with us who’s willing to listen and act upon things as long as they are mutually beneficial for our business and for our fans.”