Our post last week about Jamie Clary’s attempt to make it 18 for 18 in MLS Cup Final attendance got us thinking about the Major League Soccer Guaranteed Seat License Program. Here is an interview we did some time ago with MLS VP Brad Pursel about the GSL program.
For the last few years, MLS has offered its fans the opportunity to purchase a “Guaranteed Seat License” for the MLS Cup and MLS All-Star game. For a one-time fee, the GSL affords the purchaser the lifetime right to purchase tickets for those two events every year. We were intrigued by the program, and MLS Vice President of Club Services Brad Pursel was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the GSL. Mr. Pursel has worked with MLS since 1997 in various capacities and his answers are below.
Footiebusiness.com: What is the intent of the GSL program? What is MLS trying to achieve by offering this opportunity?
Brad Pursel: The intent of the GSL program is to offer our fans the opportunity to always secure seats for our annual All-Star Game and MLS Cup, our two biggest events. It’s a special and unique program that does not exist in other professional leagues.
FB: Who is the target audience for the GSL program? What is MLS doing to promote the program to this target audience?
BP: We’ve targeted core MLS fans for this program, which is why it is primarily promoted via our websites, MLSnet.com and FutbolMLS.com, and through our e-blasts. We’ve seen many purchases by families and as gifts for children to enjoy for a lifetime.
FB: Has MLS capped the amount of GSLs it will sell? How many has it sold so far? When will the offer end?
BP: We have not yet capped the number of GSLs that are available, but we will monitor it closely to determine when the offer should end. Although we do not disclose the number of purchased GSLs, the number has exceeded our expectation.
FB: As the popularity of MLS increases, do you envision GSL holders using the GSL as an investment opportunity? Will holders buy tickets using the GSL and then try to sell them at a profit?
BP: GSLs are a personal investment for enjoyment and entertainment and the price could increase in the future. GSL holders are not permitted to sell their tickets.
FB: Finally, how did MLS decide on the $500 price point? The amount seems too low to be much of a revenue generator. Was it intended as such?
BP: In the beginning, we wanted to offer GSLs at price point that was not too low or too high. We are considering increasing the price, especially as the number available decreases. The program has generated a significant amount of new revenue.
Thanks to Mr. Pursel for his responses. We think the GSLs are a great idea for fans seeking to hedge against the increasing popularity of the League. In an ideal scenario, MLS Cup will become a hot enough ticket such that GSL holders will have a chance to purchase tickets for an otherwise sold out event. When MLS holds these matches at soccer specific stadiums, the events typically sell out and thus GSL holders have an avenue to purchase tickets for these games. However, when the League uses bigger venues, tickets are typically available the day of the game and thus the value of the GSL is minimized.
We were a bit surprised by Mr. Pursel’s responses about the re-sale of tickets purchased through the GSL program. The terms and conditions of the GSL preclude the transfer of the license, however the rules do not appear to preclude the sale of individual tickets purchased via the license. That said, even if MLS didn’t explicitly preclude the sale of tickets purchased with the GSL, the ticket holder would be subject to applicable state laws.
Overall, we think this is a worthwhile program, especially if League’s profile continues to grow. Imagine if this opportunity was offered for the Super Bowl 40 years ago. For more on the GSLs, click here.
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