Well, that was quick.
The Seattle Sounders announced on Friday afternoon that MLS Cup, scheduled for Sunday Nov. 10 at CenturyLink Field, is completely sold out. Capacity is listed at 69,000+, meaning the championship matchup between the Sounders and Toronto FC will be the most-attended soccer match in the state of Washington ever. It will also be the second-most attended MLS Cup, behind only last year’s match between Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers when just over 73,000 attended. The Sounders declined to say how quickly tickets sold out, but it was less than three hours based on the time the tickets went on sale, and when the announcement was made.
“As evidenced by today’s near-immediate sellout, our fans are the most passionate and dedicated in the league,” said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer in a press release. “We are thrilled to be playing a match of this magnitude in front of a historic home crowd of more than 69,000. This club has always benefited from the intensity and fervor that our fans bring to CenturyLink Field and next Sunday is a chance to add a historic new chapter to our homefield advantage.”
As the end of the MLS Eastern Conference semi-final concluded, interest in attending the Sounders’ first chance of wining MLS Cup in front of their home crowd increased with each passing moment. The Sounders announced ticket sales to the general public would commence at 10 a.m. on Friday Nov. 1, but it became apparent pretty quickly that it would be a difficult ticket to get.
Prior to the start of the playoffs, season-ticket holders could opt into postseason tickets — including MLS Cup, through their “pay as we play” program. Opting in meant their credit cards were charged as the Sounders advanced through the playoffs, and thus they were guaranteed tickets. That meant a significant number of tickets were gone as the final whistle was blown in Atlanta.
As an added benefit, season-ticket holders were allowed to purchase an additional six tickets through their account. That sale began almost immediately, and demand was so high the Sounders almost immediately started opening up additional tickets for sale. Inventory in the lower bowl was essentially gone by mid-day on Oct. 31.
Looks like only scattered seats available in the lower bowl at @CenturyLink_Fld for the #MLSCup final. Still some availability in the 300 level, and don't think they've opened up the full stadium yet. @SoundersFC season ticket holders snapping them up. #Sounders #MLS #SEAvTOR pic.twitter.com/wFjoxoFr9x— Miki Turner (@turneresq) October 31, 2019
After the lower bowl tickets were snapped up, the upper deck began to go, with the Sounders opening up additional sections for sale throughout Thursday, with the remaining pre-sale inventory apparently gone by early Friday.
As of 7am today the presale tickets appear to have sold out. Looks like about six sections — and lijelyother assorted seats — will be released for public sale. pic.twitter.com/FOfqQVnoKa— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) November 1, 2019
Unconfirmed reports put the number of tickets left for sale to the general public at around 7,000, and shortly after sales to the general public opened on SeatGeek at 10 a.m., it was clear that the announcement of a sold-out Century Link field was imminent.
“I’m really fired up about this, the building is sold out,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer announced to the media at a Friday availability. “I’m really excited about that, it’s just a great feeling to have our fans able to watch a MLS Cup here in Seattle.”
The number of extra tickets allocated to season-tickets has caused significant unrest among the fanbase — particularly those who are not season-ticket holders. Given the demand for tickets, the Sounders of course were never going to be able to accommodate all those who wished to attend. But the process of allocating the tickets is the source of the concern. For their part, the Sounders were mostly satisfied with the procedure, though acknowledged there were some issues.
“For fans who didn’t have a good experience, I hope they will follow up and we will certainly try to accommodate everyone we can,” said General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “We want all of our fans in that building that can fit in. It’s a league [MLS] run event, so we’ll see as it progresses.”
Lagerwey also clarified the expected capacity for the event. As configured, CenturyLink holds just under 69,000, with the capacity to expand to 72,000. Lagerwey said he does not expect much more capacity beyond the current configuration. “As far as I know, I don’t expect more seats to become available from a capacity standpoint,” Lagerwey said.
There is a small chance that additional tickets are made available, though, should Toronto FC or the league not use their full allotment. TFC were apparently allocated 3,000 tickets — nearly 5% of capacity — which will be divided among their fans, supporter groups, front office personnel and presumably sponsors. Any tickets that are not claimed will go back on market for sale. How many that ends up being won’t be known until a few days before the game most likely. There is a waiting list fans can sign up for, in addition to seeking tickets through the secondary markets.