MLS Cup presale fiasco leads to finger pointing between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake fans

Jamie Squire

Despite squashing the leaked Ticketmaster code that led to 1,000 purchased MLS Cup tickets, Sporting Kansas City has been unable to silence upset Real Salt Lake fans who feel that they've been wronged, as fans of each club point fingers at one another.

Hysteria is an appropriate word for the situation that took place Tuesday after around 1,000 MLS Cup tickets were sold using a leaked Ticketmaster code prior to a 48-hour Sporting Kanas City season ticket member presale.

Sporting Kansas City chief revenue officer Jake Reid said Wednesday that the club is still trying to figure how the "13STMCUP" code was leaked and sent out to the public - many of whom were Real Salt Lake supporters that have since had their orders cancelled.

"A code for season ticket holders somehow got out there before we even sent it to them," Reid said. "[Real] Salt Lake had a hold of it, some of their fans, and just circulated it. Once it went viral on social media, you can imagine what happened. A majority of their fans bought upwards of 1,000 tickets. We shut it down as soon as we found out about it, but in this day and age the damage was already done.

"Once we figured it out, we worked with Ticketmaster and figured out what had happened and closed it down and refunded the tickets. Obviously for us, it's intended for our season ticket members, so it took away from their allotment and our first parties to make sure they get their seats for the match."

The code was generated for Sporting Kansas City season ticket members who had trouble logging into their account manager through the club's website. However, the leaked code was distributed well before the presale event was scheduled to take place.

"We don't give out the code until 24 hours after the presale starts," Reid said. "That's noon today [Wednesday]."

Reid believes that someone likely guessed the code and sent it out via social media. Real Salt Lake fans found the code through several different sources, but the main two seem to be the Real Salt Lake official Twitter handle, who tweeted out the code, and through message boards on fan and supporter's pages.

"I initially saw the code on a Facebook group called ‘Royal Army Away,' said Real Salt Lake supporter Jacob Jones. "A Kansas City member posted the code on a local media site, and one of our members found the code and started posting it on our internal closed groups. Eventually the code got tweeted on Twitter, which Real Salt Lake too retweeted the code."

"I bought 12 tickets using the code, four of which I quickly resold for a profit, Jones added. "I made 300 dollars on the tickets. I bought plane tickets after purchasing the tickets, which cost me 600 dollars."

The story was the same for Real Salt Lake fan Jordan Rasmussen, who bought tickets for his son and himself, and two more for his brother and father.

"I bought tickets using a code that was a presale code for Kansas City ticket holders, and the tickets that I have purchased have since been voided. I was notified by RSL as soon as they heard that the tickets were going to be voided, and was sent an email by Ticketmaster today stating that they were voided.

"All day I had been looking at Facebook, Twitter, and checking my email for information about those tickets," Rasmussen added. "While looking at Twitter, I saw a link that had the promo code to buy tickets, and I went on and bought four tickets - one for myself, my son, my brother, and my dad. All of us are RSL season ticket holders.  Simple as that.

"#RSL fans :: if you bought @MLS Cup today via Ticketmaster, the leaked code was declared invalid by SKC/TM & your tix will be cancelled," was the tweet that Real Salt Lake sent out Tuesday evening notifying their fans of the situation.

"E-mails from TicketMaster will go out tomorrow explaining use of the invalid code and the timeline for refunds," Real Salt Lake added.

The ticket processing with Ticketmaster wasn't any different than any other event at Sporting Park, Reid assured the media Wednesday. The ticket distributor generated the code as usual and handled all aspects of the presale.

"We've done it every presale we've ever done this way," Reid said. "It's just unfortunate that this happened. We never want to cancel anyone's tickets regardless of where you're from. Stuff like this I guess does happen and we've made the best of what we could out of it.

Real Salt Lake fans weren't the only ones affected by the situation, though. Sporting Kansas City fans that also used the code to purchase tickets were sent an email Wednesday deeming their purchase invalid all the same.

More so, the situation confused season ticket members that purchased tickets through a promo code tied to their account number. Fans in droves took to Twitter and message boards frantically asking if they too would be out of a seat for the Dec. 7 match.

Reid assured those fans Wednesday that their purchase is indeed valid and that they're working with Ticketmaster to do these presale events differently in the future.

"We've had quite a few conversations this morning, yes."

However, the situation hasn't just left fans from both clubs without tickets to the biggest match of the year, it's led to finger pointing in both directions as people try to figure out just what happened.

"The general thought from the fans [Real Salt Lake] is that this is SKC's fault, and that the code was leaked by somebody with SKC, whether media, fan, or whomever," Rasmussen said.

"My opinion is Sporting Kansas City is at fault," Jones echoed. "Their code got leaked and was active. They realized they messed up and decided to fix it by canceling all other tickets."

"What irritates me the most is that RSL release says the KC Star leaked the code, when in fact it was RSL (their supporters) who leaked it first on twitter," one Sporting Kansas City fan said on the Cauldron's Facebook page.

"The blame and finger pointing is going both ways," another Sporting Kansas City fan said on the Facebook page. "The KC Star article is unnecessarily condemning in tone, IMO [in my honest opinion]. We are not certain who leaked the code. We do know both teams had fans jumping at the chance to use it. The rest, I think, is up for clarification or even an inquiry."

The biggest thing Real Salt Lake fans want those in Kansas City to know is that they weren't aware that the code was only for Sporting Kansas City season ticket members when they accessed the leaked code. In their eyes, they've done nothing wrong.

"Final thing that I want to add to this is that the articles that I am reading make it seems like we (RSL fans that bought tickets) did something wrong with buying the tickets," Rasmussen said. "I was looking for tickets from anywhere that I could get them, and a code was brought to my attention that I could use to get tickets.  Nowhere at any time, when I bought my tickets, did it state that it was solely for use by Kansas City Season Ticket Holders, or ask for verification that I was a Kansas City season ticket holder. I didn't lie, cheat, or steal to get the tickets, and I don't believe that any RSL fans did either."

And the biggest thing Sporting Kanas City fans and personnel want those Real Salt Lake supporters to know is that the tickets were intended for the Sporting Kansas City season ticket members who have been at Sporting Park throughout the season supporting the hometown team.

"For us, it's the biggest game we've had all year and arguably in our franchise history," Reid said. "They've been with us all year, some of them going back to the start of the franchise, so for them it's vital to us that they get their seats and they come out here. It's a huge game and the last people we want to leave in the cold would be our season ticket members.

This article will be updated with new information and quotes as they become available.

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