Perhaps the greatest rivalry in world soccer, FC Barcelona versus Real Madrid, or El Clasico, will be played out once again this summer, but this time on American soil. It is only the second time the clubs have met outside of Spain – the last time was in Venezuela in 1982.
This iteration of the classic will be played July 29 at Miami’s recently renovated Hard Rock Stadium. Originally opened as Joe Robbie Stadium in 1987, it is the home of the Miami Dolphins, the University of Miami Hurricanes and the Orange Bowl. It has hosted five super bowls, and is slated to host it again in 2020.
The stadium has recently undergone extensive renovations – capacity was reduced from 75,000 to 65,000, and improvement were made in seating and concourse areas. Upgrades included new video boards in each corner, new premium seating options and suites, and a canopy covering main seating areas (key for comfort in the Florida heat).
The recently announced El Clasico match will be part of the International Champions Cup, a summer friendly tournament played at venues worldwide. The ICC is a production of Relevent sports. Grant Wahl reported in Sports Illustrated that the game was brokered by Steve Ross, who owns both Relevent and the Dolphins. In addition to the game, event organizers are planning a number of supporting events in the community – concerts, VIP parties, a legends game and fan experience programs.
Some criticism has been publicized due to the shockingly high ticket prices for the match. The Miami Herald reported that although upper deck tickets are available for $500, lower bowl tickets for $1000, and Club Level seats as high as $4500 – as of March 22nd, 46,000 tickets had already been sold. Even though some presale tickets were available for less (starting around $200), fans have understandably been complaining about the prices.
Though the event is certainly unique, it’s unclear what the nature of the off-season squads will be. Often the biggest superstars play a limited role in the summer tours. Regardless of the squads, the rivalry remains, and American fans are enthusiastic to be a part of it.
Both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will also be playing other matches in the U.S. this summer as part of the ICC.
Barca plays Juventus July 22 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, and Manchester United at FedEx Field in Maryland on the 26th.
Real Madrid will take on Manchester United July 23 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, and Manchester City at the L.A. Coliseum on the 26th.
Other teams taking part in the tournament are Tottenham, Paris Saint-Germain and Roma FC. Some venues have yet to be announced, but games will be played from coast-to-coast, including Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Gilette Stadium in Foxborough, and Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
A schedule for the tournament and tickets (if you can afford them) are available at: http://www.internationalchampionscup.com
Image courtesy Hard Rock Stadium.
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