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Jumping from the Habs to the Impact

by Gregory Caltabanis March 29, 2016
Jumping from the Habs to the Impact

With the Canadiens’ abysmal season, Montrealers are shifting to soccer

The sports landscape in Montreal is changing as fans are now opting to make the trip to Saputo Stadium instead of the Bell Centre.

The Impact’s stadium has been busy this year with many fans enjoying soccer over hockey. Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

The Impact’s stadium has been busy this year with many fans enjoying soccer over hockey. Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

While Montreal sports fans can be unreasonable at times, they are consistent in the fact that they support winning teams. Right now, the Habs aren’t exactly what you would call a winning team and are spiralling downwards with Michel Therrien at the helm. The Impact, on the other hand, are giving the Montreal faithful something to cheer about and appear to be on the upswing under Mauro Biello.

After an opening day win away at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Biello’s men took on last year’s Supporters Shield winners, the New York Red Bulls at the Olympic Stadium and defeated them rather easily. Despite their most recent defeat against FC Dallas, the Impact have emerged as one of Major League Soccer’s dark horses.

As a result of the differing fortunes of both of Montreal’s sports teams, the fans are starting to act accordingly. With the hockey season drawing to a close, less and less fans are going to watch games while the opposite is true at Impact games. Considering the difference in ticket prices, this trend should come as no surprise.

At the moment, the average ticket price at the Bell Centre is valued at $257.06 which makes it the seventh highest in the league, according to Forbes. What’s worse is that this is a 10 per cent increase from the year before. In which market can putting out a losing product result in an increase in price? In addition, it’s important to consider that concession and parking prices at the Bell Centre are much higher than they are at the Saputo Stadium.

If you opt to go see a Montreal Impact game, by contrast, it’ll cost you anywhere between $15 to $85. In fact, two single game tickets in the reds at the Bell Centre is equivalent to season tickets in a modest section at Saputo Stadium.

Recently, the francophone radio station, 91.9FM asked their listeners if they would choose Montreal Impact tickets or Montreal Canadiens tickets if given the option between the two. Much to their surprise, the response was overwhelmingly in favour of the Impact. If this same question was asked just two years ago or even last year, the answers would be much different. But let’s face it; would you rather put your hard-earned money towards watching Mike Condon, Alexei Emelin and Mike Brown put in an uninspiring performance or go watch Ignacio Piatti, Laurent Ciman and Didier Drogba (soon!) work towards something exciting at a fair price? I think the answer is simple.

At the end of the day, this trend will evolve into a regular occurrence should the Impact continue their ascent to the top of MLS while the Habs ownership show indifference to their loyal supporters and keeps increasing ticket prices despite poor on-ice displays. So, don’t be surprised if suddenly you see the Impact’s black and blue strip in the streets of Montreal instead of the Canadiens historic bleu, blanc et rouge.

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