Tag Archives: World Cup

MLS Rides World Cup Wave with Manchester United Tour

19 Jul

Landon Donavan will lead a squad of MLS All-Stars in a friendly match against Manchester United.

With more than 700 million people worldwide watching last weekend’s World Cup finale, there’s no time like the present to cash in on the renewed interest in soccer in the United States. And Major League Soccer isn’t taking any chances with its upcoming North American Tour, which will hit four major markets in a bid to keep soccer fever going by tapping into one of the planet’s most recognized sports franchises, England’s superstar Manchester United.

“Manchester is arguably the world’s most prominent sports brand,” said the league’s Executive Vice President of Marketing, Dan Courtemanche. “It’s a team made up of global stars, many with World Cup experience, so we’re expecting large crowds at these exhibition matches.”

Manchester United carries an approximate $2 million per game price tag, said Courtemanche, so all four dates on the tour will play to big crowds with a minimum capacity of 45,000 up to a maximum of 70,000.  He expects sell-outs at each venue based on previous visits by international superstar teams.

Among the most anticipated stops is the July 28 All-Star game at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, which will get a boost from an appearance by U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan in a game Courtemanche dubbed “MLS versus the world.” It is the first time Manchester will be playing against an all-star U.S. team, whose roster is made up of players who are, thanks to the World Cup, now international stars.

Though the World Cup has helped pique interest in soccer in North America, Courtemanche said the international competition on display during the tour will dovetail with the organization’s paramount belief in using the sport of soccer to promote MLS.

The legendary football club, known as the Red Devils, has already brought its 23-man travel roster – including such major names as midfielders Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, as well as Holland’s Edwin van der Sar, Portugal’s Nani and Bulgaria’s Dimitar Berbatov – to North American shores in early July to begin doing press for the events. And, in a bid to tap into the huge soccer-crazy Hispanic population in major markets, Manchester’s new Mexican forward, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will join the tour just before the Red Devils’ game against the MLS All-Stars in Houston on July 28.

The rest of the opponents on the tour include the Kansas City (Mo.) Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium on July 25th, Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field on July 21 and Celtic F.C at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 16

Rob Thomson, VP of Communications for the KC Wizards, said he’s excited to mark the first event at the new Arrowhead Stadium following a two-year renovation. With the next closest MLS cities a nine-hour drive away, Thomson expects to draw from a wide region for the Manchester game, the biggest soccer event of its kind in the area since a 2001 World Cup qualifying match that drew a more modest 37,000 fans.

“Two months ago [we would have been happy with the current 50,000 in sales], but now? No. We have our eyes on the prize of having a soccer sellout in a huge venue,” he said of the hype created by the World Cup.

The Wizards ran local TV ads for the game during every televised World Cup match and there has been local and regional print advertising as well as a healthy dose of online outreach. Because so many soccer fans follow the international game on the Internet, Thomson said buying keywords on Google, Yahoo and AOL should pay dividends at the box office, in addition to an outreach to club soccer teams in nearby Omaha, Wichita, Des Moines and the local Latino communities.

In addition, Manchester players have made themselves available to answer questions in writing and on video and Thomson said local TV and radio stations have been playing the clips on a daily basis for weeks.

While he would not discuss the marketing budget for the game, Thomson said it was a “healthy” separate budget from what the team typically spends on advertising and that it came out of the Wizards budget, with help from the NFL’s Chiefs as well. The football franchise also shared their season ticket database and e-mail list to help spread the word in an effort to showcase the stadium in a bid to bring the World Cup to Kansas City in the future.

The tour – presented by MLS and the Creative Artists Agency – marks the first time Manchester has played in the U.S. Among the promotional efforts being employed are multitiered ticket packages, which include a Visa presale, then windows for season ticket holders and 4-pack offers that include tickets to three Houston Dynamo games along with the purchase of an All-Star game ticket.

At press time more than 45,000 tickets had been sold for the game in Houston at Reliant, with some $20 seats left. Courtemanche said he is confident that the 900,000 Mexican-American Houstonians in the area will help put that game over the top thanks to the presence of Hernandez. — Gil Kaufman

Contacted for this story: Rob Thomson, (913) 226-6024; Dan Courtemanche, (212) 450-1262

World Cup Blog: Studying the Economic Impact of a ‘World’ly Event

29 Jun

The allure of hosting a mega event, such as the World Cup, is something that many countries compete for year after year. This makes you think that there would be an immediate economic impact and many positive draws from putting on such a spectacle.

We visited Stellenbosch University, outside of Cape Town, South Africa, and discussed this topic with a few top professionals in the area. There was a lot to learn about the landscape behind this tourist attraction.

One of the main aspects to understand is that sport tourists are different than traditional tourists. Generally, when people vacation in Africa they come for the “big 5” wild animals associated with the country, safaris, beaches, and other traditional tourist incentives. However, especially in these economic times, people aren’t going to be as likely to spend their dollars in these areas. For the most part, soccer fans spend money solely on tickets, food, and drinks.  At the same time that these sports visitors are keeping their pockets closed, other tourists are not visiting. Due to increased flight and hotel prices brought on by the World Cup, non-soccer fans generally won’t come to the host country during 2010.

South Africa has spent over $52 billion dollars to build stadiums, infrastructure, and other costs directly related to the World Cup. One positive of hosting such an event is that there are now better roads and resources to move forward with. However, the total monetary cost is an appalling number. To put it in perspective, Beijing spent $48 billion to host the Olympics, and this was the most of any Olympic event, to date.

Just like many think that there are economic benefits, many also assume that the event is providing many jobs. That’s true, but unfortunately those jobs usually are not permanent. There were over a million jobs terminated last year, and 100,000+ World Cup-related jobs lost this year due to the construction of stadiums and roads being completed.

At the end of the day, there are many immediate numbers that don’t support a positive picture of the World Cup in South Africa. It will take between 10-18 years to actually see the economic impact of this event.  Regardless of the figures, it is the infrastructure and word of mouth that the country is hoping to benefit from and build upon. It is up to the visitors, such as myself, to explain the beauty, love and impact that visiting South Africa can have on people.

AEG Deal for Brazillian Venue is First in South America

17 Jun

A rendering for Brazil's Pernambuco Stadium, one of 12 sites to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Pernambuco Stadium, São Lourenço da Mata, Brazil

Operator: AEG Facilities

Owner: State of Pernambuco

Comments: AEG Facilities has signed its first agreement on the South American continent, signing a management agreement for the $106 million, state-owned Pernambuco Stadium in São Lourenço da Mata, under construction just outside of Recife in Brazil.

The deal puts AEG Facilities in five continents and at the helm of a future FIFA World Cup stadium. The company has entered into an agreement to join Odebrecht, a Brazilian engineering and construction firm responsible for projects like the Tripoli Airport in Libya and a high-speed railway between Madrid, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal.

Fernandes Arquitetos Associados is the lead architect on the 45,000-seat stadium, set to anchor a business and residential complex that will eventually house 9,000 units. The site is one of 12 stadiums being constructed or renovated in advance of the 2014 games. AEG will operate and manage the facility, said Bob Newman, AEG Facilities chief operating officer.

“It’s going to be a multipurpose stadium and football is first and foremost,” said Newman, later adding “but we’re building it with the flexibility to hold family shows, concerts and other events. Our goal is to maximize its utilization by the local community in making it available to them for use.”

The facility also has an environmental component. Newman said Odebrecht was planning to build a rainwater collection system into the stadium, along with solar-panels and natural light and ventilation.

The project also gives AEG Facilities a foothold in an emerging economy with a gross domestic product that has grown two percent every quarter for the last year. The sports and entertainment community is set for two periods of venue growth, both with the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janiero.

“From an entertainment perspective, we’re about to see an entire marketplace reinvent itself at one time,” he said. — Dave Brooks

Contact: Bob Newman, (213) 763-5425

Meet Philip Costa, World Cup Blogger

17 Jun

Venues Today is very excited about hiring Philip Costa to cover the World Cup for our online properties. This senior at the University of Florida is currently doing a multi-week tour through South Africa with a group of students at George Mason University. We could tell you more about one of VT’s favorite interns (besides our own Heather and Jessica), but we figured we’d give the jet set traveler his own chance to introduce himself.

Hello Venues Today readers. I’m Phil, a lifelong sports and soccer fan (and soon to be job applicant!). I am a 4th year Sport Management student at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Throughout my time in undergrad, I have had the opportunity to attend industry conferences such as Event and Arena Marketing, the International Association of Assembly Mangagers, and Sports, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow conference in Columbia, S.C.. I’ve also worked at the O’Connell Center and Athletic Association at UF. But that’s all on hold as I set off on a three-week journey to South Africa with a group of students, and a professor from George Mason University.  During this trip we will attend three soccer matches, check out a variety of tourist destinations, and see the sport best described at The Beautiful Game. I plan on updating the blog throughout my trip and providing a better understanding about  soccer, South Africa’s sport system, and the FIFA World Cup. Stay tuned…my first bout is at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to Germany play Serbia in a Group D matchup.