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The Forgotten in the SKC/Messi/Arrowhead Debate: Season Ticket Members

In the debate of moving the Sporting Kansas City/Miami game so more people can see Messi, the season ticket members were left out.



The KC Cauldron in Children's Mercy Park | Credit: Thad Bell

Yesterday, when I suggested that Sporting Kansas City should move the Inter Miami game, featuring Lionel Messi, to Arrowhead Stadium, I expected some response. I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew.

In my mind it seemed so simple. More people could go. Costs would come down for the average person who is interested in either Sporting KC or Messi. More revenue could be had for the team. And on and on.

I brushed away some of the initial criticisms early in the story about the field size and knew I was quickly glossing over a bunch of other caveats, as were pointed out in the comments on this site. However, I think I was a bit naive to the plight of one group: Season Ticket Members.

Some Personal Background

I lived in Missouri from the age of one month old all the way up until graduating college and moving to Arizona for 13 years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I grew up fairly poor. My parents had unskilled labor jobs for much of my life and my mom even worked two jobs at times. That continued until my mother went back to school when I was in middle school and got a good job, that she has to this day, when I was in high school.

I don’t want to paint a sob story. We always had food, clothing and a place to live and I was ignorant of the lack of income of my parents. That is, until I got a little older and started to notice the discrepancy in what I had compared to others.

A part of being poorer as a child that connects to this story, is going to events. Sporting events and concerts weren’t a thing for me when I was young. I didn’t attend my first professional sports game until I was about 18 or 19 years old. I got free tickets, through my uncle, to see a Kansas City Royals game.

I took some friends from school and a couple co-workers, and I don’t even remember who the Royals played or if they won. But I had fun! I do remember there was a massive wreck on I-70 and we sat stopped for hours on the road before we eventually drove backwards up the offramp and found an alternate way home in the days before GPS on your phone.

From there, as I worked and made a better life for myself and my eventual family, I’ve been lucky enough to attend numerous sporting events and concerts. In Arizona, we were season ticket holders for the 2023 USL Championship winning Phoenix Rising FC. Back in KC, as a “member of the media,” I’m lucky enough to get to go to nearly all the Sporting KC and KC Current games and financially could buy season tickets if I didn’t fill my soccer bucket this way.

All of that personal history isn’t for nothing. It’s just to say, I’m not used to being in the shoes of a season ticket member and I wasn’t looking through that lens when I wrote yesterday’s editorial.

The Forgotten

The response to potentially moving the Sporting KC/Miami game to Arrowhead mostly fell into two camps. There was a chunk of fans who were excited and enthused by the idea. The thought, much like I had, of seeing Sporting KC and a legend like Messi play is exciting. And more people would be able to do that felt like a win.

On the other side were two groups. I’d label one as the more traditionalist. Sporting KC’s home stadium is Children’s Mercy Park. Soccer should be played in a soccer stadium. The atmosphere wouldn’t be the same. The other? Season Ticket Members.

I wouldn’t say I completely forgot STM before, but I definitely didn’t consider the breadth of their concerns. I knew moving the game to Arrowhead would cause some problems. The one at the forefront of my mind, perhaps colored by my personal relationship with money, was the lost income on selling their tickets if they so desired. Their currently very valuable ticket would become worth far less in a stadium that seems unlikely to sell out or at the very least, dramatically lower the price of entry.

What I didn’t really consider were all the other factors. Think about the site lines. Arrowhead is meant for football. There are plenty of ‘bad’ seats compared to CMP. I don’t think I’ve sat in a single spot in Children’s Mercy Park that I’d consider bad. In Arrowhead, fans would be further from the (admittedly smaller) pitch.

There is no equivalent to the Field Club either from the view or the experience of standing there when the players walk out. This is a tough one for me because I still have no idea what this is like. While I could probably swing Field Club tickets, it’d be a larger chunk of my income than I’d be comfortable with, so it’s something I’ll likely never experience. For those fans used to this, I imagine it would sting to take it away.

Then there are the friendships. Season ticket holders often sit by the same people game in and game out and they share that experience with one another. They’d surely want to share this experience too.

And all of this leaves out perhaps the most important thing. If the front office did this, it would surely be looked at as another slight, on a long list of slights, to season ticket members.

In back-to-back lean regular seasons, Children’s Mercy Park wasn’t consistently sold out. Meaning, if you bought season tickets, someone could sit right next to you, perhaps at a discount in an effort to fill the stadium. The loyalty of always supporting Sporting KC is almost punished at times. This would be another massive instance of that. As someone with the privilege to get to sit in the press box, for free, game after game, I simply didn’t consider it.

Should the Game Move to Arrowhead?

I do think it’s still a possibility it happens. As much of a slight as it would be to your season ticket holding fans, I do think there are a ton of positives still.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’ll happen. Sadly, not because of the premise of this editorial, but because of a few other factors.

First is the whole issue with Arrowhead not being suitable for soccer. It has to get to that standard for the 2024 Copa America and that may or may not be done in time for this April 13th showdown.

Second, and perhaps more troublesome, Messi and Inter Miami are in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. They are already in the round of 16 and they will play the winners of Nashville SC and Moca FC (Dominican Republic). If they advance past Nashville, the quarterfinals of the competition will have a second-leg game between April 9-11, possibly against CF Monterrey. That might mean Messi would be rested and miss the Sporting KC game entirely. That’s a massive risk when moving stadiums.

In the end, the game will likely be played in Children’s Mercy Park. People will pay massively to have a chance to watch Messi, and he may not even play. And no matter what happens from a location standpoint, someone will be unhappy. Such is the way of the world.

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