Posted: 12:12 pm Fri, May 21, 2010
By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer
For the second summer in a row, M&T Bank Stadium will host an international soccer match — this year featuring Manchester City Football Club against Football Club Internazionale Milano — a tradition that officials hope will cement reputation Baltimore as a world-renowned soccer destination.
Last year’s match, where England’s Chelsea Football Club defeated Italy’s AC Milan 2-1, sold out the stadium’s more than 70,000 seats 10 days in advance.
That event last July generated $20 million in spending, $1.5 million in state and local taxes and roughly 300 jobs, officials said.
Officials, who made the announcement Friday morning at the stadium, expect the same financial impact — if not better — for this year’s match on July 31.
In March the Baltimore Ravens said they were negotiating to bring another soccer match to the city but no further details were released until Friday’s announcement. Terry Hasseltine, the state’s director of sports marketing with the Department of Business and Economic Development, said after the news conference that the delay built up expectations.
“People have been anticipating this announcement,” he said. “People have been saving money [and waiting] for this international match.”
Last year’s match aired on ESPN. Hasseltine said no network deal has been reached for this year’s match but he expects one to be made soon.
Roy Sommerhof, Ravens vice president of stadium operations who helped orchestrate the deal, said the delay in the announcement was due to scheduling around the FIFA World Cup, which will be held in June and July in South Africa.
“Clubs are really shut down during that time,” he said, “and they have to come back together again after that.”
In addition, this year’s match is a standalone event whereas last year’s game was part of the World Football Challenge tournament. Sommerhof said the soccer clubs had to negotiate not just the stop in Baltimore but also games in three other cities before their schedule could be set.
The Ravens were talking to as many as eight teams before it was narrowed down to Manchester City and Inter Milan in mid-March. Sommerhof said Baltimore’s reputation from last year’s match helped attract teams this year.
“In discussions with teams we were hearing ‘I heard about Baltimore,’ ‘I want to play in Baltimore,’” he said. “From nowhere [last year] that’s where we are now.”
The Ravens are already looking ahead to next year — Sommerhof said the team is targeting “five or eight” clubs to sign to a deal for next summer.
“We’d like to continue this if we can,” he said. “It’s a great event for the city and state.”
Like last year’s game, this year will feature an up-and-coming team against an established power in Inter Milan, which won the Italian league title this season.
Tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. May 26. Seats run from $25 for the upper end goal section to $115 for club level and lower midfield seats.