The 2016 Major League Soccer season finishes Saturday as Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders play the MLS Cup final. The winner becomes league champion.
Tickets are setting record-high price points on the secondary market, underscoring soccer's growing popularity in the U.S.
The two clubs are competing in their first MLS Cup final and have some of the league's most enthusiastic fans. All that may be driving ticket prices on the secondary market.
On TicketIQ, a live event ticket search engine that collects tickets and data from over 90% of the secondary market, the average resale price for 2016 MLS Cup tickets at BMO Field is now $530. That makes it the most expensive MLS Cup final since 2011, when the company began tracking resale data.
Secondary market tickets are those purchased from a primary seller, such as a team or venue, and resold. The price of tickets on the secondary market can be lower or higher than those on the primary market, depending on demand.
This year's final easily exceeds 2013's match between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City, which previously was the highest-priced final at an average price of $350.
Don't expect to get in for much less if you're hoping for cheaper tickets at the last minute. The get-in price starts from$224 in the 200 sections of BMO Field. The Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City final had a get-in price of $215.
Toronto FC was the MLS's first Canadian expansion team, joining the league in 2007. It finished last in its division in its initial year but has been managed smartly and improved steadily. At one point, former U.S. national coach Jurgen Klinsmann advised the club's management on hiring of key personnel. The team's general manager is a former U.S. national player, Greg Vanney, who also spent time in the French first division.
Over the past two years, Toronto expanded BMO Field by 7,000 seats and it now has a capacity of 36,000.
The Sounders started playing in the MLS in 2009 and are known for their strong fan base, averaging a league-high 42,000 at home games. They should be out in droves for the cup final.
Toronto FC reached the knockout round with series wins over D.C. United, New York City FC and the Montreal Impact. In the Western Conference, the Sounders cruised past FC Dallas before taking out the Colorado Rapids in the semifinals.
Toronto striker Sebastian Giovinco, a pint-sized but skilled, former Italian national player, is the team's star. Nicknamed the Atomic Ant, he is already the team's all-time leading scorer. But Giovinco has help from U.S. national players Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.
U.S. national striker Clint Dempsey is Seattle's star, although he is injured and unlikely to play. The team's most dangerous scorer in his absence is Jordan Morris, a rising U.S. star.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor.