SBJ/November 21-27, 2011/Facilities

Red Bulls more than double premium prices

The New York Red Bulls are more than doubling the cost of suites at Red Bull Arena, making them the most expensive premium seats in Major League Soccer, as part of a ticket restructuring that includes outside firm Legends Hospitality Management overseeing suite and season-ticket sales for the team.

Prices for the all-inclusive luxury suites will jump from between $65,000 and $75,000 to between $150,000 and $175,000 for the 2012 season. The team also will debut a premium field-side seating area in a section previously used for media.

Demand drove up Red Bull Arena suite prices, the team said.
Photo by: PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
“There was an increase in demand, and we were significantly mispriced,” said Matt O’Neil, Red Bulls vice president for marketing and sales.

The 30 suites seat 17, 19 or 24 and include unlimited food and beverage (including beer and liquor) as well as VIP parking. A source familiar with the stadium said the team consulted other MLS clubs in creating its original pricing structure for the suites and tried to secure three- and five-year contracts. The contracts included all 17 Red Bulls home games as well as two potential playoff games and one special event that could be a concert or exhibition game.

O’Neil said the club has 12 unsold suites for 2012 and that staff will again look to secure three- and five-year deals. Under the new prices, all events at Red Bull Arena are included. Last year, the venue hosted 26 total events.

“We looked around at the other teams in New York and what they do with their premium product,” O’Neil said. “We feel there is still value in [the luxury suites].”

Luxury suites at MetLife Stadium for the New York Jets range from $165,000 to $340,000, with the latter price point including food and beverage. Madison Square Garden’s 20 bunker suites carry a $1 million annual fee, and its 58 Madison-level suites are priced in the six figures. Citi Field’s Empire-level suites range from $225,000 to $275,000 a year.

Of the 17 other MLS teams, only the Los Angeles Galaxy boasts a six-figure fee for its suites. The Galaxy’s luxury boxes range in price from $25,000 to $100,000 a year, depending on size and amenities such as food, beverage and parking. The Vancouver Whitecaps, who in September moved into the recently renovated BC Place, have suites that range from $25,650 to $65,835. Sporting Kansas City’s 34 suites in the new Livestrong Sporting Park range from $58,000 to $93,000 a year.

“Relative to the other facilities in town, it’s still going to be an affordable way for a corporate entity to entertain clients,” said John Guppy, former president of the Chicago Fire. “They don’t have a ton of inventory, so they have legitimate scarcity.”

The suite increase is part of a stadium-wide repricing strategy that will see some sections rise in price and others decline. A team rep said the average price of regular tickets will increase 1 percent.

The Red Bulls also will debut a section of field-side seats called the Manager’s Club in the first row of the west stands, which formerly was part of media seating. The club has yet to set a price point for the 22 seats. The media space will be shifted one row up and will not lose any seats.

Team officials declined to comment on the sales partnership with Legends. However, a Legends official confirmed the deal and said the firm will employ a staff of 14 sales representatives at Red Bull Arena. A representative said Legends has hired Mike Behan, former director of team marketing and business operations at the NBA, to oversee the sales team.

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