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Open letter calls on Vancouver Whitecaps to 'do the right thing' after Messi situation

"Fans need to get together to show [the Whitecaps] that this issue is not just going to go away."

An open letter calls on the Vancouver Whitecaps to do more for fans who paid inflated ticket prices to see Lionel Messi at BC Place. 

The manager of a ticketing company based in Vancouver says the Vancouver Whitecaps have several options to pay fans back who didn't get to see the superstar play with his club, Inter Miami FC, on May 25.

Tickets for the game sold out quickly, despite prices selling for as much as 700 per cent more than regular prices. Typically, Whitecaps tickets start around $40 or less, depending on where the seats are located. 

Tickets on the resale market for the highly-anticipated match sold for upwards of $10,000 a pair. 

Fans were outraged when Inter Miami FC announced that Messi, and other former FC Barcelona stars, including Luis Suárez and Sergio Busquets, wouldn't make the journey to Vancouver for the game. 

A local woman launched a campaign directed at the Vancouver Whitecaps management, urging them to consider issuing refunds to frustrated fans. 

Burnaby resident Ho Chun launched a class-action lawsuit against the Whitecaps for raising ticket prices for the May 25 game. Anyone can join the lawsuit who purchased tickets to the game. 

Vancouver ticket broker says Whitecaps misled loyal fans

Vancouver Ticket Centre Ticket general manager Kingsley Bailey believes the Vancouver Whitecaps should find other ways to give value back to fans who paid inflated prices to see the Inter FC stars instead of giving them back money.

In its promotional materials, the Whitecaps mentioned that they would play against Inter Miami FC "led by a contingent of former FC Barcelona stars including Lionel Messi."

Bailey wrote in an open letter that "no one forced" the soccer franchise to promote the game with this specific wording, compelling fans to pay more with the expectation that a line-up of superstars would play at BC Place (see slide three).

He also pointed out that the "team's 2023 average attendance was only 16,745, yet this game had a record-breaking attendance of 51,035, over three times more."

A seat in the upper bowl section 438 for the Miami game cost $284.05, but the "same seat for a 'Golden Era' match against LAFC on Aug. 24 is only a total of $35.15, over eight times less," he added.

"It should be obvious that the Vancouver Whitecaps made record profits last weekend, money made by exploiting the hopes and dreams of their fans. Regardless of who won the game on the field, they were the clear winners, and we, their loyal fans, were the losers," he wrote.

Frustrated fans didn't receive any money back they paid to see Messi play but were offered 50 per cent off all in-stadium food and beverages. Youths 18 and under could get one free kid's meal combo.

Bailey mentioned that many people already feel the food is overpriced at Whitecaps games and described the discount as an "insulting bare minimum."

The Whitecaps later offered fans a ticket for another game valued at $35 but they couldn't choose the game or their seat. 

"Fans need to get together to show them that this issue is not just going to go away."

Bailey suggests the Whitecaps give single-game and golden-era pack buyers a credit that can be used over two years for the value of the price inflation on their tickets. For new 2024 season ticket buyers, he recommends offering a 50 per cent credit. 

The Whitecaps should allow long-time season ticket holders to choose the game and seat for their “complimentary” ticket, he said.

Bailey hopes to rally shortchanged fans to compel the Whitecaps to "do the right thing."

"Fans need to get together to show them that this issue is not just going to go away," he wrote. 

Bailey says fans can honk in solidarity when they pass his shop at 779 Beatty, across from BC Place. "The Club's staff room is directly across the street from my store. They will notice."

He also recommends joining his Facebook page, “No Vancouver Whitecaps FC No," to create a "loud and unified message."