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Seattle Sounders leaves SeatGeek, returns to Ticketmaster

Major League Soccer (MLS) club the Seattle Sounders has appointed Ticketmaster as its official ticketing partner beginning in 2021.

The move sees the Live Nation-owned ticketing giant replace SeatGeek as the club’s primary and resale ticketing platform.

The deal will see Ticketmaster’s Presence and SafeTix technologies facilitate the move to all-­digital tickets so fans can access tickets on their mobile device, download to a digital wallet, receive personalised event information, and experience a streamlined venue entry experience.

The Majo League Soccer (MLS) team was partnered with Ticketmaster from the club’s expansion launch in 2009 through to the 2017 season.

Sounders executive vice-president and chief global officer Bart Wiley said: “We are thrilled to return to Ticketmaster as Sounders FC’s official ticketing platform. Our longstanding relationship over the course of nearly a decade saw Sounders FC become one of the most well-­attended clubs in world football, and they understand our culture deeply.

“We know from experience how strong of a partner Ticketmaster is, and alongside our colleagues at the Seahawks, we believe this gives our fans the most seamless event experience from an operational perspective. This will be particularly important as we prepare to welcome the public back to Lumen Field in 2021 as the fight against COVID-­19 continues and improves.”

As part of the agreement, games will also feature contactless entry and payment solutions to both assist with the safe return to matches, and streamline the in-venue experience for fans into the future.

The Sounders have also been working closely with its partners at the Seattle Seahawks and First & Goal Inc., to ensure a continuous ticketing and operational experience inside the 72,000-capacity Lumen Field for MLS matches, NFL games and other concert and entertainment experiences.

Although there has been a degree of ‘fan backlash’ on social media for the move to Ticketmaster, TheTicketingBusiness understands that getting fans back into the stadium was the priority item for the Sounders. Therefore utilising in-situ stadium infrastructure and processes (put in place for the tenant NFL team) added to the viability of moving to Ticketmaster which currently tickets the Seahawks. Signing-on fees and a more competitive deal, say observers, also likely to have played a part in the decision, with the Sounders bereft of significant ticket income in this Covid-struck year.

Wiley added: “We would also like to thank SeatGeek for their time with our organisation as our official ticketing partner over the past three seasons. SeatGeek worked diligently to provide our fans with a first-­class matchday ticketing experience, and our club is appreciative of their efforts.”

In 2016, SeatGeek became the official ticketing partner of MLS. The Sounders were the second of the league’s teams to make the move to SeatGeek, following Sporting KC. Los Angeles FC did not renew with SeatGeek and has also moved to Ticketmaster.

Of the league’s newest franchises, Nashville FC and Inter Miami went with Ticketmaster, whilst Cincinnati (2019) and Austin (2021) chose SeatGeek. Last month SeatGeek also confirmed a multi-year agreement with the league’s Houston Dynamo.

In last month’s TheTicketingBusiness Forum 2020, Jeanene Valentine, head of ticketing for new MLS club Inter Miami, explained that SeatGeek offers clubs a “magical” digital ticketing experience that is customer-friendly. She commended the SeatGeek app and labelled their game day as “flawless”, but pointed to Ticketmaster for something more robust and flexible.

SeatGeek’s current league-level ticketing partnership with MLS is up for renewal at the end of 2022.

Image: Seattle Sounders