SBD/February 21, 2014/Events and Attractions

Liverpool FC, Other High-Profile European Clubs Confirm Summer Tournament In U.S.

Liverpool will play matches in N.Y., Chicago and Charlotte during the tournament
EPL club Liverpool on Thursday formally announced that it will make its seventh trip to the U.S. when it plays in the Guinness Int’l Champions Cup this summer alongside seven other blue-chip European clubs. The 12-city, round-robin tournament, run by RSE Ventures subsidiary Relevent Sports, will see each team play at least three games before the championship match is held at Sun Life Stadium on Aug. 4. All matches will be broadcast on either FS1 or FS2, with other participating teams including Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid and the two famous Milan clubs, AC and Inter. Two of Liverpool’s three games will be held in the traditional soccer bastions of N.Y. and Chicago, at Yankee Stadium and Soldier Field respectively. Liverpool's third match will be at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte against AC Milan, marking the first event at the venue following the completion of the NFL Panthers' first phase of a $87.5M renovation project. RSE Ventures will get to stage the game with no venue costs, after convincing the city of Charlotte to use one of its four rent-free days negotiated as part of the stadium renovation plans. The staging of the game in Charlotte continues the trend of soccer properties eyeing the Southeast U.S. as growth markets.

SELECTING THE SITE: Int’l summer soccer tournaments have become commonplace in both the U.S. and Asia over the last decade, as clubs have honed in on the concept of holding preseason camps in lucrative overseas markets in a bid to kill two birds with one stone. At this point, the question generally is not if the top clubs will travel for the preseason; it is which continent they will travel to. Last year, Liverpool journeyed to the Far East and Australia for its preseason tour, but club CCO Billy Hogan said that didn’t automatically mean the club would switch to America this year, and added that the financial boost of these tours is not the overriding concern. Hogan -- who announced the club's U.S. trip during a press conference in Charlotte while a simultaneous presser was held in N.Y. -- said, “There’s a bit of a myth that touring is a highly lucrative part of what we do; in reality, it’s a very small component of the overall commercial and revenue construct of the club. It frankly is more about how we bring the club out to different markets.” Still, Hogan acknowledged that while fans in Asia are generally regarded as more soccer crazy than the average American, the maturity of the sports market in the U.S. makes a trip to the States more financially alluring than Asia. He said, “Ticket sales are how you make your money on tour ... and particularly in Asia, where there’s a lot of developing areas in a lot of markets ... you can’t charge what you would in the States. So from our perspective, it’s a balance.”

AN ADDED BONUS: Hogan noted Liverpool FC's ownership consortium, Fenway Sports Group also owns Roush Fenway Racing, which is based out of nearby Concord, N.C. Hogan said that, schedules permitting, FSG will likely try to bring out some of RFR’s drivers and staff to the game, alongside other stakeholders.
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