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Volume 22 No. 39
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Gold Cup numbers shine as predicted

The 2011 Gold Cup did not disappoint CONCACAF officials who predicted the tournament would set records for ticket sales, TV ratings and overall revenue.

The tourney, which featured competition among North American, Central American and Caribbean national teams, sold out nine of 13 doubleheader matches, posted strong television viewership on Univision and Fox Soccer, and nearly doubled its corporate sponsorship portfolio.

The Mexican team (in black) drove increases in Gold Cup viewership and attendance.
“We will surpass our budget estimates substantially,” said Italo Zanzi, deputy general secretary for CONCACAF, who declined to reveal the tournament’s total revenue. “We came in with very high expectations and surpassed them, even in cities where [the game] did not sell out.”

The tournament saw relatively soft attendance numbers for U.S. team games at Ford Field in Detroit and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, drawing 28,209 and 27,731, respectively, for those matches. But games featuring the Mexican national team sold out Cowboys Stadium, Soldier Field and New Meadowlands Stadium. Reliant Stadium and the Rose Bowl, which played host to the semifinals and final, also sold out.

The tournament drew a final attendance of 612,964, eclipsing the high mark of 490,852 set in 2007. The U.S. has been the host or has co-hosted with Mexico since the event made its debut in 1991.

The jump in attendance marks a rebound for the Gold Cup, which in 2009 saw its gate numbers drop 4 percent from 2007 numbers after games in Phoenix and Seattle drew less-than-stellar crowds.

“We had a higher capacity than in [2009] so we had the ability to sell more tickets,” Zanzi said. “And the bigger stadiums and markets were able to outperform what we did in 2009.”

The event also delivered strong numbers for broadcast partners Univision and Fox Soccer. Games featuring the Mexican national team saw the biggest increases on Univision. Mexico’s 2-0 victory over Honduras in the June 22 semifinals averaged 7.1 million viewers, becoming the top prime-time sports telecast in Univision’s 24-year history.

“Mexico has always been the big story for us, but I would say it’s more pronounced this year,” said Sandy Brown, president of sports for Univision. “We did a better job of promoting [Gold Cup] across the network.”

Fox Soccer televised U.S. national team games, and its broadcast of the U.S. vs. Jamaica quarterfinal averaged a 0.56 rating and 311,000 viewers, marking a 145 percent jump from the 2009 U.S. vs. Panama quarterfinal.

Anticipation for strong attendance and ratings helped the Gold Cup sign 13 corporate partners, up from seven in 2009. A source familiar with the tournament valued partnerships in the mid-six figures.