It was back in November 2005 while queuing for hours outside the Arima Velodrome to purchase tickets for the Soca Warriors’ World Cup qualifying playoff match against Bahrain that I first considered the idea of season tickets for ‘die-hard’ fans of the Trinidad and Tobago national football team.
A thought born out of the frustration of having to compete with conveniently-interested “bandwagonists” has since been brought to fruition by the David John-Williams-led TTFA administration.
On the surface, the Season Ticket Program is a great initiative for both the TTFA and supporters like myself, with advanced revenue benefiting the former and avoidance of ticket queues and guaranteed entry to matches to the advantage of the latter.
But one cannot overlook the inherent shortcomings of such an initiative or the major hiccups which may arise leaving the controversy-filled new administration with egg on their faces.
The prices for the Season Tickets are TT$2000 (covered stands) and TT$1000 (uncovered stands) with guaranteed entry to all national senior team games held on home soil up until November 2017.
If we take into consideration the TT$100 price tag for an uncovered stand ticket for Wednesday’s Caribbean Cup qualifier against the Dominican Republic and the risk involved in inflating prices during the current economic climate, a 50% price increase for the Hex may be the wisest decision for the TTFA.
Added to this, a paltry five World Cup qualifying home games are scheduled to be played over the next 13 months. This would leave the Season Ticket holder at a loss when he calculates how much he would have saved had he not made this commitment.
The TTFA said free entry to friendly matches would also be given to Season Ticket holders. But given their recent failure to attract teams to play against us on our home soil, this could very well equate to zero games.
One can possibly argue that the cost of the added incentives offered to the purchasers of the Season Tickets—such as reserved stadium access on match days, 20% discount on Soca Warriors merchandise, access to select training sessions and meet and greet sessions with the players—is also absorbed into the prices. But this is not usually the case with Season Tickets.
Season Tickets are usually priced at a discount rate with added incentives used to reward the customer’s commitment. This was probably John-Williams’ intention. But I for one am not sure that I am getting value for my money and I am sure that others will feel the same.
According to radio ads, the Season Ticket Program gives you a “guaranteed seat”. One must question the accuracy of this statement when, for every major game at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, there are usually more patrons than seats in the uncovered stands.
Given this deficiency in seating, can the TTFA really deliver on this promise of a “guaranteed seat”? Will they finally make a commitment to ensure the comfort and safety of fans by not overselling tickets?
This is left to be seen but I have my doubts. The infrastructure at the Hasely Crawford Stadium also makes it virtually impossible to effectively partition a section of the stands to accommodate 6,000 persons, so blocking a number of seats for Season Ticket holders may be impossible.
At the last World Cup qualifier against Guatemala in Port of Spain, many patrons were caught in the usual bottleneck at the main entrance. Some were granted relief when given permission to use the VIP entrance, much to the displeasure of the VIP ticket holders.
Can the TTFA assure Season Ticket holders, who use the Reserved Stadium Access, that they will not become caught up in such a quagmire?
That is another question to be answered.
The Season Ticket Program seems like a great idea in theory but its practicality is somewhat questionable.
I will only be willing to part with my hard-earned money as soon as Mr John-Williams can offer me guaranteed international friendlies, guaranteed value for money and, most importantly, a guaranteed seat.
Editor’s Note: The TTFA’s Season Passes are available at First Citizens Bank branches on Independence Square, One Woodbrook Place, Arima, Tunapuna, Chaguanas, Point Fortin, San Fernando, Gulf View and Scarborough.
There are 1,400 Covered Stands and 5,000 Uncovered Stands passes available. Fans can book by calling the TTFA Hotline: 270-6868.