They’re three months away from their first game in 2017 and already now Widzew Łódź broke their all-time high and are among Poland’s most magnetic clubs. 5,500 season tickets passed and growing.
1.5 year ago Widzew Łódź, one of Poland’s most popular clubs, collapsed and had to begin from scratch. This unfortunate fate was sealed in court just when their new 18,000-seat stadium was coming out of the ground. After one season in the 5th league they won promotion and are now on the 4th level of Polish football pyramid.
Fears of the new stadium being largely empty have been dismissed by recent news from the club. As they began the season ticket campaign in mid-November, the club managed to sell 1,000 in less than two days. Yesterday Widzew announced it’s already 5,500, more than their all-time high three leagues higher (2010/11).
Today it’s above 5,600 already and fan clubs from outside the city have until Friday to submit their demand lists. VIP season tickets will be available from Monday onwards and should raise the number, let alone the fact that first spring game is coming in mid-March.
Widzew have already confirmed the result exceeds their highest expectations. The club had initially hoped to reach 3,500 thanks to the “new stadium effect”. With 5,600 they’re already among top 10 Polish clubs in terms of season tickets, a form of ticketing that's still not too popular among traditional supporters.
The new stadium will open in February. Its capacity of 18,000 was calibrated for long-term needs of the club in Ekstraklasa, but it seems they won’t be losing money even before they reach top level again.
Widzew are not the investor or manager of the new stadium. They will become the anchor tenants soon, though, hosting all games and renting offices inside. Like almost all stadia in Poland, this PLN 134-million project ($32m) is financed entirely by municipal authorities of Łódź.
Widzew not the first (or best) to impress
It’s not uncommon in the football world to see clubs mobilizing their fanbases after collapse. In recent years this happened, among other, to Italian FC Parma, who reestablished themselves in the 4th league and managed to sell over 9,000 season tickets in the first season (now 9,236). Perhaps the most impressive case so far is that of Scottish side Rangers FC who sold 38,000 season tickets shortly after their liquidation and relegation to the 4th tier.