Courtesy of Austin FC
As Q2 Stadium approaches its first birthday next week, it is set to do something this week for the very first time: open its doors to soccer fans on back-to-back nights. On Friday, June 10, the US men’s national team takes on Grenada in the opening match of the CONCACAF Nations League. The following night, Austin FC and Mexican club Pachuca will square off in a midseason exhibition match.
Not a bad soccer binge, if you (and your wallet) can stomach it. At the time of writing, getting in the door for both matches costs a total of $ 83.45 after fees. For comparison, that’s right around the going rate to see Austin FC take on FC Dallas in a significant MLS clash on June 25.
Ticket prices, especially as they pertain to the men’s national team, have been a hot-button issue since the first of the month when, after a 3-0 win over Morocco in a friendly in Cincinnati, US star Christian Pulisic vented about fan support in a postgame interview with ESPN. “To be honest, for whatever reason, I’m not super happy with the amount of Americans here, however that works out, if I’m being completely honest.”
The announced crowd came in at 19,512, well below the TQL Stadium’s 26,000 capacity, and a good portion of it was Moroccan fans. Immediately the conversation shifted to US Soccer’s ticket prices, which many fans on social media condemned as prohibitive. According to multiple reports, tickets for the match started at $ 60, before fees, for a friendly against a non-marquee opponent.
Interestingly, it seems that Austin fans, despite having a smaller stadium and despite the fact that the match is technically – and I cannot stress that word enough – competitive, are getting a discount by comparison.
As of midweek, several hundred tickets remained available at the more palatable price point of $ 40 before fees. That gets you the opportunity to see, with your own two eyes, the Stars and Stripes battle the 170th-best team in the world, according to FIFA, in the opening match of a 4-year-old competition created to make international breaks mildly more entertaining.
But hey, it’s the men’s national team! And in a World Cup year, no less. Gregg Berhalter has his A-team in town, or at least as close to it as possible, given injuries. Is that alone worth the price of a solid show at Stubb’s? It gets even tougher when you consider A) how much soccer fans in Austin already have to shell out to see the Verde on a regular basis, and B) that this will be the USMNT’s third match at Q2 Stadium in less than a year.
Which is, by the way, a separate issue entirely. In the blink of an eye, Austin has vaulted to the top of US Soccer’s list of favorite cities to frequent, thanks to its excellent practice facilities, warm weather, and most importantly … its sellout crowds. Could that status be at risk if Friday’s match kicks off with some clusters of empty seats in the nosebleeds? What’s clearer than ever now is that the players notice these things, and it matters to them. It’s going to take Cincinnati quite a bit of time to recover from Pulisic’s comments. Let that be a cautionary tale.
Preserving Austin’s status as a national team stronghold is not a good reason to pony up for a match that doesn’t interest you. But for those who do go, that notion might help ease the financial pain, if only slightly.