Later today (May 10), London’s West Ham United will play its final English Premier League game at the Boleyn Ground, the club’s home since 1904. From next season, the club will pay £2.5 million ($3.6 million) to rent the 60,000 capacity Olympic Stadium, which was built for the 2012 Games. Even though the club has yet to officially move in, things are off to a great start.
There were fears that the club would struggle to fill the new stadium in East London, which seats 25,000 more than its old home. But West Ham announced that it has sold all 50,000 season tickets ahead of next season, which ”practically guarantees that the new stadium will be sold out for every Premier League game next season,” it said.
That means West Ham United now have the second-largest group of season-ticket holders in the Premier League, behind only Manchester United.
Even though West Ham last won a major trophy, the FA Cup, in 1980, they have maintained a dedicated fan base despite middling performances in recent seasons. The club’s success in filling out its new stadium is also down to its pricing policy, a controversial issue in English soccer in recent years.
During a league match in February, 10,000 Liverpool fans staged a walkout in protest of ticket prices set at £77 per game next season. Other fans have campaigned for clubs to cut prices, with mixed success. The English league’s average ticket price is the highest in Europe.
Even if they miss the club’s old ground, many West Ham fans will pay less then they did before to see their team play in its roomy new digs next season. Select tiers in the stadium will boast the cheapest season ticket prices in the Premier League. And all it took was for the government to build a giant new stadium in its backyard with public funds, and cover the running costs for the duration of the club’s 99-year lease with taxpayer money.