Guinness Int'l Champions Cup Match At Big House Sees Record Crowd For Soccer In U.S.
Saturday's Guinness Int'l Champions Cup Manchester United-Real Madrid match at Michigan Stadium drew a crowd of 109,318 fans, the "most ever to watch a soccer game in the United States, besting the 101,799 in the Rose Bowl for the gold medal game between Brazil and France" at the '84 Summer Games, according to Gregg Krupa of the DETROIT NEWS. The event "felt like any football Saturday" at the Univ. of Michigan, "except there was red and there was white, instead of maize and blue." By late morning, "all around town, the anticipation, electricity and passion -- and, yes, traffic -- were all evident, leading up to the match" (DETROIT NEWS, 8/3). In Detroit, Jeff Seidel wrote the game "had the look and feel of most major sporting events." More than half of the crowd "was wearing red which made it look like a giant throng of Ohio State fans had invaded Michigan Stadium." ManU manager Louis van Gaal said, "The atmosphere was fantastic" (DETROIT FREE PRESS 8/3). In Detroit, Angelique Chengelis reported Univ. of Michigan AD Dave Brandon "was pleased with how smoothly things went." Brandon hinted that there is a "strong chance soccer will return to the stadium next year." He said, "I know the promoters would like to talk to us about doing this again. We’ll consider it." But Brandon initially "wasn’t so sure this would work at Michigan Stadium, namely because of ticket and beer sales." UM "had to apply for a one-day license to sell alcohol." Brandon said initial reports from Saturday showed "there were very few incidents" (DETROIT NEWS, 8/3). Brandon: "The spectacle was terrific, but the biggest problem was all the red in the stands" (DETROIT NEWS, 8/3).
STAYING RELEVENT: RSE Ventures co-Founder & CEO Matt Higgins, whose Relevent Sports subsidiary is putting on the Guinness Int'l Champions Cup, said of the game at Michigan Stadium, "It was pretty extraordinary being there with that crowd. You could feel it was one of the tipping points for the sport in this country. If there was any question whether soccer has arrived in the United States, that put an end to it. It sold out in 36 hours, and it wasn’t just the size of the crowd, but the level of enthusiasm" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sharon Terlep wrote having two "iconic European teams competing in America's biggest football stadium made for some unusual juxtapositions." Vendors "hawked Guinness in front [of] the typically dry Big House and, before the game, a huge tarp bearing the beer brand's logo laid where the 50-yard-line and the University of Michigan's maize block 'M' would be on a typical game day." In the press room, a "cluster of British reporters remarked on the stadium's huge screen and its tiny seats relative to big European venues" (WSJ.com, 8/2).
SATURDAY'S GUINNESS INT'L CHAMPIONS CUP GAMES
|Manchester United-Real Madrid||Michigan Stadium||109,318|
|Liverpool-AC Milan||Bank of America Stadium||69,364|
|Inter Milan-AS Roma||Lincoln Financial Field||12,169|
|Manchester City-Olympiacos||TCF Bank Stadium||34,047|
KIND OF A BIG DEAL: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler reported out of the 69,364 tickets sold for Saturday's Liverpool-AC Milan game at Bank of America Stadium, "almost all of those people showed up." Only a "few thousand seats went empty," which is "at least 15,000 more than the average turnstile count" for a Panthers preseason game. Saturday's crowd "was not a fluke," as the stadium hosted a Mexico-Iceland friendly in '10 that also "drew more than 63,000 fans." There "have been only a handful of non-Panthers events since the stadium opened in 1996 that truly felt big." This game "joined that list" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/3). Also in Charlotte, Curry Shoff reported Liverpool fans "filled most of the stadium." The supporters "performed traditional Liverpool chants and made their presence known during each of the game’s two goals and at the game’s end" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/3).
SOCCER NATION? In St. Paul, Andy Greder reported 34,047 fans "turned out Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium" for the Manchester City-Olympiacos Champions Cup game. But prior to the match, Friday "was fraught with concerns about the uneven temporary grass sod laid over the artificial turf." Olympiacos MF Pajtim Kasami said, "We were close to canceling the game." Olympiacos coach Jose Miguel Gonzalez Martin del Campo: "We feel like the field was terrible" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/3). Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Tim McManus noted a crowd of 12,169 attended Saturday's Inter Milan-AS Roma Champions Cup match at Lincoln Financial Field (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/3). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reports a crowd of "more than 50,000 is expected" tonight at Sun Life Stadium for the ManU-Liverpool Champions Cup final (MIAMI HERALD, 8/4).