Buzz continues to build ahead of Impact's home opener

With roughly six weeks remaining until the Montreal Impact’s home opener against the Chicago Fire, the club continues to grind away at ticket sales and bask in the buzz building in Montreal about the coming soccer season.

Club president Joey Saputo announced on Monday that the team has sold 7,000 season tickets so far ahead of the home opener on March 17, and club executive vice president Richard Legendre says that number is encouraging for the team’s MLS debut.

“What’s very encouraging is that we had never sold that many season tickets in the Impact’s history,” Legendre told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Having sold 7,000 units at the end of January is, in itself, totally new to us. It might fall a bit short of what we were expecting, but then again, we’re fully aware we’ll be selling season tickets until the opening of the new and improved Saputo Stadium, as the first few games will drive excitement around the team. We can already feel the enthusiasm around the city.”

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And that enthusiasm is certainly felt among the players, who have spent much of the preseason in Mexico after two days in Montreal swarmed by the media.

“The buzz is starting to come,” goalkeeper Greg Sutton said. “Hopefully we’ll get the kind of great support the likes of Toronto and Vancouver had during their first season. It’s been a long time coming for this city to get an MLS franchise.”

The attention is starting to build from a marketing standpoint, including billboards next to the busiest Montreal highway, full-page ads on the back of newspapers and epic posters on which a soccer ball has a definite Mount Royal look to it and the Impact logo has literally become a shield flanked by war hammers.

In other words, MLS is ready to conquer Montreal.

“Our marketing campaign just started and will grow bigger,” Legendre said. “We can already sense that people are reacting differently to our product now than a few months ago. And it’s not just the campaigns, but the whole lot that drives interest: all the different drafts, the unveiling of our new jersey, the ads, the signing of players such as Patrice Bernier, and so forth. There’s no secret recipe: It’s about making your presence felt.”

One interesting challenge for the Impact is to sell tickets in both their temporary home at Olympic Stadium and also for the permanent residence at Saputo Stadium, where the club will begin play on June 16 against Seattle.

“This term will feel like almost two seasons in one,” said Legendre, who also supervises the Saputo Stadium expansion project. “The work done at Saputo Stadium is no mere expansion; it’s a makeover. Our time will be precious until June, so it will be a challenge until the end, but things are going well.”