Greg Bartram

Building a fortress: Crew SC projects strong ticket demand

There’s no place like home. Columbus Crew SC players know that all too well. After a three-week absence, the Black & Gold came back to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday for a gorgeous spring night that ended with a 3-0 win over Orlando City SC.

Needless to say, Crew SC supporters went home satisfied that night. The club expects they will come back in large numbers for more.

Crew SC expects a strong turnout for its upcoming home matches, particularly this Saturday’s clash with the Philadelphia Union, which will draw the largest crowd to date this season.

“We are excited about the large crowds anticipated this early in the season,” says Clark Beacom, vice president of sales and marketing. “Our supporter culture is growing tremendously and our fans understand that every single home match is significant.”

It’s a particularly big deal for Crew SC’s most vocal supporters who call the Nordecke, MAPFRE Stadium’s northern corner, their home. They anchor the fortress.

Spend a match in the Nordecke and you understand. Deafening chants, flags and tifos create an authentic soccer atmosphere, as Crew SC supporters show a tremendous level of passion and creativity in their support of the Black & Gold.

That support registers with the team.   

“The Nordecke has been fantastic,” Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter says. “They give us energy, they fuel the guys. The first three games they were amazing and we expect them to continue on. It really does help the players [...] When you have an intimidating atmosphere it becomes challenging for the opponent.”

A few years ago the Nordecke sold out a few times a season. This year it’s at capacity all the way through May 22 and will likely sell out beyond that, guaranteeing an electrifying atmosphere at MAPFRE Stadium.

Crew SC captain Michael Parkhurst says the Black & Gold feed off that atmosphere.

“There are periods in every game where you are not playing well or things are not going your way and you need a little boost,” he said. “When you get a shot off and the crowd gets into it you feel the energy.”

Parkhurst says there’s a strong bond between the team and its supporters.

“There’s an appreciation both ways,” he said. “We really appreciate the support they give us, particularly early and late in the season. We need them, but we also want to be there for them to provide some entertainment and good times.”

Good times are to be had not only in the Nordecke as the entire stadium creates the unique atmosphere. Another in demand area at MAPFRE Stadium is premium seating, including the Scotts Field Seats, Center Circle Club and Premier East.

Scotts Field Seats put fans just feet away from the action and include a pre-match buffet and drink service. The Center Circle Club offers a great midfield view from behind the team benches, complimentary VIP parking, customizable name plates and more.  The newly created Premier East, meanwhile, features upgraded seats from a terrific midfield location.

All premium seats on a season ticket membership basis are already sold out for the year. This will mark the first time that memberships in the Scotts Field Seats, Center Circle Club and Premier East are sold out.

“Our premium seats are extremely popular with our season ticket members as they offer an exceptional matchday experience,” Beacom says. “But that’s true for all of MAPFRE Stadium.”

In 2014, Crew SC recorded its best-attended season in 12 years with more than 290,000 spectators for an average of 16,881 per match. The club sold out five home matches on the way to its first playoff appearance since 2011.

The high level of interest speaks to the overall rise of soccer in the United States, Crew SC’s entertaining style of play, as well as the enticing offers the club has created for its home matches.

The Philadelphia match is one of three dollar nights; and other special offers include beer and brat packs, all you can eat seats, and pizza and soda packs.

With these offers, Crew SC has been able to draw casual fans to MAPFRE Stadium for affordable and unforgettable experiences. Recent trends show that more and more of these casual fans are turning into avid supporters who want to cheer on a team that is proud to play in Columbus for Columbus.

For more information on what it’s like to attend a Crew SC match, read the article “Field of Screams” in this month’s edition of City Scene Magazine.

Click here to purchase your tickets for Saturday’s match versus the Union.