We’re only hours into the Zlatan Ibrahimović era in Major League Soccer and already news of LA Galaxy hitching their wagon to the Swedish mega-star has had an impact on ticket sales for the Philadelphia Union.
The Union host LA Galaxy on July 21 and while it’s hard to say now whether he’ll be in the lineup, the possibility has fans already eyeing tickets for the chance to see the 36-year-old striker in person.
“We’ve seen a significant uptick in single-match tickets for this match: over 600 alone, just since the news broke,” Union Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott said in a statement Friday afternoon. “Talen Energy Stadium is going to be the place to be on July 21 as this is a premier opponent with an international superstar. We’re looking forward to it, and we anticipate that match being a sell-out.”
McDermott said he expects several other sell-outs over the summer as well, noting that “new full season tickets are trending higher than any season in club history since 2012 renewals continue to increase, and we are pacing to break our club group sales record for the third year in a row.”
Crowds at the first two home games of the season — the first during widespread power outages and the second on a chilly St. Patrick’s Day — have not passed the eye test but the Union are still somehow averaging 15,888 tickets sold per game. The team averaged 16,812 per game last season.
The July 21 game against the Galaxy is of course just one game, but like David Beckham, who had a quantifiable impact on road game attendance during his time in MLS, Ibrahimović’s global brand brings the promise of increased metrics across the board for the league.
While it’s okay to be sad that he’s not going to be — and let’s face it, never was — putting on Doop Hoops, if he does make the trip in July (it’s the first game in a four games in 14 days stretch so stay tuned) he’ll have plenty of support in Chester, regardless of the team name on his uniform.
For one fan, Scott M, of Mt. Laurel, N.J., getting tickets for the July 21 Union game was a no-brainer. A former season ticket holder who is frustrated with the direction of the Union, Scott got his tickets on Stubhub specifically because of Ibrahimović.
“I’ve always been a Zlatan fan and root for Sverige internationally,” Scott said. “My mom’s side is Norse/Swedish and we have family there. I went to Malmö just to check out the stadium where he started. He’s changed how Swedish kids view themselves.”
Rory Robinson is another local fan excited about the chance to see Zlatan play in person.
“I think that Zlatan has an incredible blend of skill, and finesse,” Robinson said. “He makes very difficult things on the pitch look easy, especially for a guy his size. It’s rare that a guy that talented makes his way to the MLS and as my favorite player, I must see him live. I hate that it’s against the Union, but I’m expecting a great match.”