The World's Game In The Heart of the Sun Belt

AC Milan-Club América ticket sales at 26K

More than 26,000 advance tickets have been sold for Wednesday’s friendly match at the Georgia Dome between AC Milan and Club América, a presell figure that compares to last month’s match in Atlanta between Mexico and Venezuela.

At Saturday’s summer meeting of the Georgia State Soccer Association, president Larry Green said drawing a crowd similar to 51,000-plus that turned out for the June 24 match is critical to bolster Atlanta’s forthcoming World Cup bid.

“Please do all you can to support this event,” Green told a gathering of more than 100 member representatives at a suburban Atlanta hotel. “It’s really important to hit the 50,000 mark. We think the U.S. chances of getting a bid are good, and that Atlanta has a story to tell.”

Atlanta is one of 37 cities vying to be included in the U.S. Soccer Federation’s bid for the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. The deadline for U.S. venue bids is July 29, and the USSF will narrow down the final field to around a dozen by next May. FIFA will select the host nations for both of the following World Cup cycles in December 2010.

The GSSA has been an active partner with the Atlanta Sports Council in promoting Wednesday’s game in the World Football Challenge, which involves a number of leading European and Mexican club team playing in several U.S. cities. Next Friday’s match between AC Milan and Chelsea in Baltimore, which also is bidding for a World Cup venue, has been sold out.

The GSSA is extending through Monday a discount group ticket plan aimed at organizations, especially youth associations.

The Mexico-Venezuela match was the first soccer match held at the Georgia Dome and was organized by Soccer United Marketing, which puts on an annual summer American tour of the Mexican national team, among other events.

Presale ticket figures released a few days before the game were around 30,000, but walk-up sales were heavy as a largely Mexican-American fan base from around the Southeast came to see El Tricolor play in Atlanta for the first time.

“Some people thought that game might have given the city a black eye because there weren’t local groups involved,” Green said. “But it got more than 51,000 without local organization or publicity.

“There’s no bigger event that we could aspire to be a part of,” Green said, referring to the possibility of Atlanta playing host to World Cup matches.

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