Fueled by a surge in interest for international soccer coming off of last summer’s World Cup, CONCACAF officials anticipate an increase in attendance and television viewership for its upcoming Gold Cup tournament, which features competition between North American national teams.
Italo Zanzi, deputy general secretary for CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), said the June 5-25 tournament could break the half-million mark for total tickets sold, which would be a record for the tournament. The Gold Cup, which features 10 doubleheader matches and a final, sold 468,245 tickets in 2009, the last time it was contested, and 490,852 in 2007.
“Coming out of [the World Cup] we have a much higher profile,” Zanzi said. “We’ve been able to maintain the national footprint and step into exciting new markets.”
The tournament also has generated a sponsorship portfolio that includes new partners Nike, Home Depot and
Sources with CONCACAF and Soccer United Marketing, which oversees marketing and sponsorship sales for the tournament, declined to discuss the tournament’s total sponsorship value.
“The property has matured and become a marquee platform for the bigger brands who have played in the [soccer] space for a while and are looking to drive value,” said David Wright, vice president of global sponsorship for Soccer United Marketing.
In 2009, the tournament’s July 26 final between the United States and Mexico drew 5.38 million viewers on Univision, making it the most-watched sporting event of the weekend. Fox Soccer Channel averaged 383,000 households for the game. The tournament’s average attendance was 36,139 — a drop of 4.3 percent from 2007 — but turned heads with a quarterfinal round at the new Cowboys Stadium that drew 82,252 fans, the semifinals at Soldier Field drawing 55,173 and the championship game at Giants Stadium drawing 79,156.
For 2011, the tournament will again visit Cowboys Stadium, Soldier Field and the New Meadowlands Stadium, as well as NFL facilities Reliant Stadium in Houston, Ford Field in Detroit, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Soccer-specific facilities Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.; Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City; and the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles round out the mix.
Todd Fischer, manager of national sponsorships for State Farm, said the insurance giant values the tournament’s popularity with Hispanics. “[CONCACAF] has done a good job of diversifying the geographic markets,” he said.
Fischer said State Farm’s activation for the tournament will revolve around in-stadium signage and interactive displays at the Futbol Fiesta expo. A spokesperson for Home Depot said the home improvement chain also will activate a family-friendly engagement marketing booth at the expo, and will have in-store Gold Cup events within
Rene Ramos, sports and entertainment manager for MillerCoors, said the tournament provides a greater opportunity to reach the Hispanic market. For 2011, MillerCoors will run an in-store campaign that will award ticket discounts to consumers. The company will also produce a Gold Cup-specific national television spot and will promote six troupes of soccer freestyle players to perform tricks at special events during the tournament.
“Three years ago we would have seen minimal activation in a city like Charlotte that is traditionally [not Hispanic],” Ramos said. “Now because of census data we’re seeing Hispanics that are emerging in places we didn’t see them before. We see [the Gold Cup] as an opportunity to tap into those new areas.”