Toronto on reducing ticket prices: "Our fans have suffered"

TORONTO – After announcing that prices for past and present season-ticket holders will be reduced to 2007 levels for next year, Toronto FC management vowed Thursday to find a way to make the things better where it counts: on the field.

“Our fans have suffered through two tough years,” Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tom Anselmi told reporters on Thursday. “We recognize that this is a real concern. If I'm a TFC fan, I'm upset, I get that, so this is really trying to recognize their support, their loyalty. They've done their job and we haven't done ours. We've got to get it right.”

Toronto FC, who will go a sixth straight fall without making the MLS Cup playoffs, take a 5-20-7 record into their final home game of the season on Saturday against the Montreal Impact at BMO Field (1:30 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US).

“The team performance hasn’t been good enough and we’ve got to fix that,” Anselmi said, “and [reducing season-ticket prices] is something we can also do right now.”

The top season ticket will cost $1,007 next year, a reduction from $1,292 in 2012. The lowest season ticket will cost $190, down from $361 this year. The reduced prices are for current season-ticket holders or former season-ticket holders who want to return. New season-ticket purchasers will pay “a couple of bucks more.”

The club sold 15,800 season tickets for 2012, but many of the tickets for recent games have not been used and management realizes that the only real solution is having a better team on the field.

“The product hasn’t lived up to the pricing, especially in the last few years,” Anselmi said. “We’ve got to deliver a winning product. Five wins isn’t good enough. No question about it.”

The next step will be a review of the team’s operations and hiring a club president with knowledge of soccer could be considered. But Anselmi offered no specifics, saying they will come later.

“We’ve got to look at everything,” he said. “I think we’ve got to look at the whole thing top to bottom and assess it.”

Paul Mariner took over as head coach from Aron Winter on June 7 and still has a year left on his contract.  Anselmi said he would wait for the review before he says whether he will return as head coach, which seems likely since he has already been involved in planning for next season.

Anselmi said the club is aware of the level of discontent among the club’s followers.

“We talk to them quite a lot,” he said. “They’re upset, no question about it. But are they committed to football in this city? We believe they are, so this is really about saying, ‘We appreciate your loyalty, we appreciate your patience and stick with us and we’ll get this thing turned around,’ it’s as simple as that.”