What once was speculation has become a reality. Michigan Stadium will be the host site for a highly anticipated soccer match this summer between two of the top club teams from Europe, Manchester United and Real Madrid. The match was formally announced on Friday, ending months of rumor and speculation.
Manchester United and Real Madrid are scheduled to play in Michigan Stadium on August 2 as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup. Michigan made the joint announcement with Relevant Sports, the company in charge of putting on the match.
“We are excited about the opportunity to host two of soccer’s premier clubs at Michigan Stadium,” said Dave Brandon, Michigan’s athletic director, in a statement Friday. “This is a rare chance for the Ann Arbor community and thousands of soccer fans in and around the southeast Michigan area to watch elite level professional soccer. This event will have a positive economic impact on the city of Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan and will continue to extend the Michigan brand internationally.”
One of the goals for playing the game in Michigan Stadium will certainly be to draw a massive crowd. Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the United States, and Manchester United and Real Madrid figure to draw a large crowd.
“The Big House represents the best in American sports and Manchester United and Real Madrid are the most famous teams in the world,” said Relevent Sports chief executive officer Charlie Stillitano. “Whether you are one of the hundred thousand fans packing University of Michigan Stadium or viewing nationally on FOX, we know the atmosphere will be unlike anything fans have ever seen.”
No matter what the turnout for the game ends up being, this should be a big win for Michigan Athletics, which will benefit from hosting another non-football event inside the historic football stadium. In an age when universities continue to explore possibilities to generate more revenue off of large facilities that typically get used seven or eight times a year for its intended purpose, Brandon seems to have found another event that could become a more regular feature on the schedule. Earlier this offseason Michigan Stadium hosted the NHL’s Winter Classic. Could more hockey and soccer be helping to fill the void in Michigan Stadium in the offseason? This is, after all, one of the reasons why Brandon was hired by the university.
The tentative locations for matches in the soccer series were reported in late January. Ann Arbor, Michigan was among the cities listed, leaving Michigan Stadium as the rumored host site. Among the other cities to host soccer matches will be New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Denver, Miami, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Hartford.