SBJ/December 20 - 26, 1999/No Topic Name

Organizers to kick around changes after soccer finals stumble

Disappointing attendance and a potential financial loss for this year's College Cup men's soccer finals probably mean changes for next year's event, organizers said.

More than a few grumbles stemmed from ticket prices, which were $50 to $85 for the two-day event. Judy Rose, athletic director at co-host University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said lower ticket prices will be considered for next year.

Rose said the tournament may suffer a financial deficit. Local organizers raised about $300,000 to pay for the event, but attendance fell below expectations.

UNCC, Davidson College and the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission hosted the College Cup and share responsibility for its financial performance.

The three-game event was held at 73,248-seat Ericsson Stadium for the first time this year. Tickets were available only for the stadium's lower bowl, which seats about 34,000.

Total attendance was 28,670, well below the event's high of 42,022 in Richmond, Va., in 1995. Organizers had hoped to attract about 20,000 fans each for the two semifinal games Dec. 10 and the championship game Dec. 12.

The event featured Indiana, Santa Clara, Connecticut and UCLA.

Charlotte will host the College Cup again in December 2000. The NCAA hasn't awarded host sites beyond that. Organizers said the move to Ericsson Stadium, home to the NFL's Carolina Panthers, represents a step up for men's soccer in prestige and recognition.

Mark Bedics, an NCAA spokesman, said Charlotte excelled in its first year as College Cup host and praised Ericsson Stadium. The NCAA's main concerns, he said, center on attendance and the field markings. Some fans and media complained that football-field yard markers marred the field.

"Obviously that was a concern coming in," Bedics said. "It's something we'll look at again."

NCAA officials will meet with the local organizing committee next month to discuss possible changes for 2000.

Erik Spanberg writes for The Business Journal in Charlotte.

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