More fans will have the opportunity to attend Vancouver Whitecaps FC home games this year, the club announced today.
Seating capacity for home games will be increased to 22,120, up from the 21,000 total it was capped at in years previous.
The Whitecaps will remove extra tarps in the lower bowl to increase capacity to 25,000 for three select high profile matches against the LA Galaxy (April 2), Seattle Sounders (October 2), and Portland Timbers (October 23).
After the most successful season in the club’s five years in MLS, the Whitecaps saw their highest year-over-year increase in season ticket memberships. They now have 15,500 season ticket members, up from 14,000 in 2015 and 13,000 in 2014.
“Interest in our club continues to increase as we enter our sixth season in Major League Soccer,” said Whitecaps FC Chief Operating Officer Rachel Lewis in a team released statement. “Our season ticket base has seen steady growth for the last three seasons and we are thrilled to now be in a position to expand our regular season capacity and open additional seating for three of our marquee matches.”
The Whitecaps have been intelligently cautious in opening up too much of the 54,500 seats at BC Place, limiting supply to drive up demand. The plan appears to be working as the team set new club records for average attendance at 20,915 and sellouts with 12.
The team increased capacity for their home playoff game last season, attracting 27,837 people.
The ‘Caps are still cautiously dipping their toes in the waters of increased capacity for the first time, limiting capacity at 25,000 for marquee games rather than opening up the entire lower bowl. Vancouver’s first home game against Portland on May 7 will remain at the standard 22,120 seats.
The strategy to limit capacity is a smart one taken by the Whitecaps, refusing to succumb to the temptation of a quick pay day in the short term and instead focusing on a long term vision.
If tickets to the three high profile games sell quickly, it should encourage the club to increase the number of marquee games and/or the capacity for future seasons.