Now, with under two weeks before the Africa Cup of Nations kick-off, ticket sales have jumped to 300,000, 60% of target.
Tickets for the ACON are available through Spar stores nationwide, online and via a call centre, Ticket vouchers have been available since September and tickets since November, with a discount scheme in place for tickets bought early.
The South African organisers are using five stadiums for the tournament:
Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg (renamed the National Stadium for the tournament), capacity 94,736. is being used for the opening ceremony and two opening matches.
Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, capacity 54,000, 6 games.
Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, capcity 40,929, 8 games.
Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, capacity 42,000, 7 games.
Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth, capacity 42,486 (based on World Cup) 8 games.
The two opening matches are on a single ticket so the total number of tickets available for the tournament, based on the stadium capacities above, would be 1,474,792. The 500,000 target of the organising committee would thus represent 33.9% of total capacity, with sales to date representing just over 20%.
Prices range from just $5.88 for a Category 3 (only available to South African citizens) for some of the group matches to $22.35 USD for a Category 1 ticket for the final.
Organisers are confident that ticket sales will pick up over the next few days, with logistical problems such as broken ticket machines being overcome and caravans being set up to encourage working class fans to buy tickets in areas not served by the Spar chain.
Most of all, the organisers will be hoping the host nation has a successful tournament.