Toronto FC supporters snap up tickets in wake of high-profile signings
Toronto FC fans show their support as the national anthem is sung before the team takes on the Columbus Crew in MLS action in Toronto on Saturday, July 27, 2013. (The Canadian Press/Michelle Siu)
Published Tuesday, January 14, 2014 5:13PM EST
TORONTO -- Toronto FC supporters have wasted little time responding to the club's recent spending spree.
The MLS team says it has sold more than 2,000 new season tickets in the last week in the buildup and hoopla surrounding Monday's announcement of the signings of England star striker Jermain Defoe and influential U.S. international midfielder Michael Bradley.
The renewal window for the club's existing 14,600 season-ticket holders runs through January, with the team expecting some 95 per cent to get back on board.
Season tickets at BMO Field, which has a capacity of about 22,000, will be capped at 17,000 with club officials expecting a possible return to a waiting list.
The club is also looking to create more premium seats, perhaps via a lounge on the North side of the stadium given existing field seats and tables are sold out.
In 2013, Toronto ranked 10th in the 19-team league with average attendance of 18,131. The franchise averaged 20,000-plus over its first five seasons but has dropped to 18,000-plus the last two seasons as results have continued to disappoint.
MLSE boss Tim Leiweke has said the team will lose money in 2014, given the outlay on Defoe, Bradley and fellow designated player Gilberto.
That financial picture is not helped by the fact that season-ticket holders who renew are paying the same as last year when prices were rolled back to 2007, the year the team entered the league, in a bid to compensate for poor performance on the field.
New season-ticket holders do not get that break so the club will make more from them. A team spokesman said new season seat buyers will be paying, on average, $6 per ticket more per game.
Toronto is hoping to expand and renovate BMO Field to increase capacity and improve game experience.
Toronto, which went 6-17-11 in 2013, kicks off the 2014 season March 15 in Seattle before opening at home March 22 against D.C. United.