Interest high for Heinz Field soccer match between top Euro teams
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Heinz Field is accustomed to large football crowds, but this weekend it will be for football of a different type.
European soccer powers Manchester City and AC Milan will meet at 4 p.m. Sunday as part of the 2014 International Champions Cup. The game is expected to draw the largest crowd for a soccer match in Pittsburgh.
Ticket sales have eclipsed 30,000.
“These are two great teams, and coming off a World Cup, there's a lot of interest. It was big for us to be chosen as one of the cities to host a game,” said Jimmie Sacco, Steelers executive director of stadium management.
The last time Heinz Field hosted professional soccer was July 29, 2004, when Chelsea defeated AS Roma, 3-0, before 25,137 fans.
This time, the matchup is again between top teams from the same two leagues, but the level of exposure that England's Premier League, Italy's Serie A and soccer as a whole has gained through U.S. television has increased greatly.
“Certainly the EPL is more popular in the U.S. than (10 years ago), so that base of fans is bigger. A few years ago, Manchester United, Liverpool, maybe Chelsea, were the only EPL teams people really knew. Now that the games are on NBC every weekend, even the casual soccer fan can probably name 10 or 12 teams,” said Tim McCoy, executive director of PA West Soccer, the local U.S. Soccer state association.
PA West served as the group ticket sales partner for the game, and McCoy said at least two local youth soccer clubs were responsible for buying 300 tickets each. McCoy also pointed out a purchase of 45 tickets from Mercer County-based Shenango Valley Soccer Club as one example of how people will be traveling an hour or more for the game.
Pittsburgh is one of 13 cities that will host a match in the ICC, a preseason tournament featuring eight European teams.
Eight venues are current or former NFL stadiums, but the host sites also include Yankee Stadium and Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, which is expected to draw a U.S.-record 110,000 fans to watch Manchester United face Real Madrid.
“There's a lot of growth in the (soccer) industry, and you're seeing a lot more recognition of it here. We didn't lose sight of that after the Chelsea game,” Sacco said. “Tickets are still selling now with less a week to go, and there are still good seats available.”
Manchester City-AC Milan will be televised on Fox Sports 1, and all the ICC games will be shown nationally between Fox and NBC outlets. For their part, Sacco and the Steelers hope what viewers see in a large, enthusiastic crowd for an event they hope becomes a regular visitor to Pittsburgh.
“All these games are going to be on national TV, and it doesn't just showcase Heinz Field, it showcases Pittsburgh as a city,” Sacco said. “And yes, we are lobbying to try and bring other soccer matches and events to Heinz Field.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt: Football coach hire comes 1st, athletic director 2nd
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Man involved with crash with officer dies in Pittsburgh hospital
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- N.Y. Fashion Week out of Lincoln Center
- MLB notebook: Braves trade OF Justin Upton to Padres
- ‘Friends’ are hidden backbone of many libraries in Pittsburgh, elsewhere
- Penguins notebook: Kunitz ‘really close’ to return
- Port Authority fires two bus drivers involved in rollover crash