If you were at Crew Stadium for last Saturday's match vs. Montreal, you experienced 21,112 fans making for a raucous atmosphere as the Black & Gold marched to a comeback victory. Atmospheres like that are becoming commonplace in Columbus which, as attendance data shows, is burgeoning as a soccer market in support of its Crew.
"We're continuing to trend in the right direction," said Mike Malo, the Crew's Sr. Vice President of Sales & Marketing. "We're continuing to see growth in all facets of our ticket sales – season tickets, partial plans, single game tickets."
The match against Montreal was officially the club's second sellout of 2014. The last time the Columbus Crew posted two sellouts in a single season was during the 2007 campaign. Prior to this season, the last sellout at Crew Stadium was Saturday, August 31, 2013 against Seattle Sounders FC.
"This will be our fourth year of significant growth in ticket sales," said Malo. "We're projecting that we'll probably be averaging around 17,000 fans by the end of the season, which is great."
Currently, the Crew's average year-to-date number (through 10 home contests) is 15,530 fans per match, which is a 5.2% increase over the first 10 matches of 2013. Additionally, season ticket sales are up by 5%, group sales up 21% and single-match tickets up 6%.
"We're seeing a maturation of the marketplace," continued Malo. "Some of the metrics around the World Cup are indicators at how strong Columbus is as a soccer market. We're seeing that in the growth of our fan base. We've been very focused on creating a memorable experience and providing a good value for our fans, and now we're getting more trial among casual soccer fans, which has translated into repeat customers."
According to Scarborough Research, the size of the Crew fan base in the Columbus metropolitan area has increased 23% over the past year, which was by far the largest increase in fan base compared to some of the club's competitors.
"Our new ownership has made significant investments in improving the fan experience at Crew Stadium," said Malo. "Those investments, along with the growing popularity of soccer throughout our region and the country, are impacting our business in a very positive way. When we start seeing sellouts on a consistent basis, it’s an experience that people want to keep having and sharing with their friends and family."