While the constraints of small town economics, or well meaning managerial incompetence can be excused, it sure would be nice to think that the chairman/owners/evil soul-sucking corporate overlords appreciated that loyalty, and would not only not take advantage of it, but would actually go out of their way to encourage that sort of feeling.
When TFC started playing in 2007, it seemed they were going out of their way to create that dynamic, reaching out to football supporters in the city, setting up cheap supporters section tickets, and actively seeking their input to help create the atmosphere that made TFC a surprise success at the box office if not on the field. Supporters were having fun and felt appreciated, the club could use the energy they created to maintain interest among the more casual fans in the higher priced seats. Win-win
Fast forward 4 years, and the loving feeling is gone, replaced among those supporters with at best a weary cynicism and at worst an outright contempt of the front office, who unveiled another increase in season ticket prices, with the highest increase in the cheaper supporter sections seats, all while using images of those supporters to sell the TFC experience.
For me, it's not too bad, my tickets are still affordable, and I still feel it's worth it, there's more games involved in the package this year and the MLS cup ticket is definitely an upgrade over the Carlsberg cup friendly game that's been forced on ticket holders in the past.
But after a 4th consecutive year of sub-standard play, and another increase, a lot of people are angry, and even people who've been there right from the start are contemplating dropping their tickets, or downgrading to cheaper seats. Now say what you will about MLSE, but one thing they are not is bad at business, so presumably they think they've got the pricing balance right, and it may well be that these most passionate fans will eventually swallow their outrage and once again pay out for their tickets.
The problem is, in my opinion, anger and grudging renewal among the committed will translate to apathy and non-renewal among the more casual fans. Let's hope I'm wrong and they're right as there are way too many examples in Toronto sports both past and present of how hard it is to win back fans once they've given up.
The always excellent The Yorkies blog sums it up very nicely here.
Sadly, ML$E has Reds' supporters over the proverbial barrel. The fine balance between loving your club and being taken for a chump by a corporation with zero desire for winning on the field is a painful choice. You can never fault TFC's fans for giving it their all at BMO Field and on the road with The Reds but eventually backs will break and fans will stay home. Another lacklustre year...and yet another ticket increase, may just fatally injure this young club. The sad thing is, the Toronto-hoser media will say... "professional soccer just can't work in Toronto". Remember, we were there when it did - before greed showed up.
A surprisingly good thing dropped in the lap of MLSE, and they did do a lot to get that going, including stumping up the franchise fee to bring the club into existence when no-one else was able or willing. Unfortunately since then, rather than nurture the relationship with the supporters, they've chosen to exploit it for higher short term profits. Hopefully they wake up before it's to late.