Friendlies are big business: UMich receives $2.6M for Big House rent

Record crowd for friendly at Michigan Stadium.

The University of Michigan received $2.6 million from Relevent Sports for the Guinness International Champions Cup soccer match held at Michigan Stadium last month.

That’s a pretty big amount for a 16-day rental. Still, the results were truly newsworthy: the 109,318 fans in attendance for the Manchester United / Real Madrid matchup comprised the largest soccer crowd in United States history. And if the match generated decent per caps, Relevent Sports probably turned a nice profit on the game. From the Ann Arbor News:

Relevent Sports also paid U-M $550,000 to access the stadium for a two-hour practice session for each team the day before the match. The practices were held the day before the game, and spectators were charged $35 for entrance into the practices.

Relevent also paid Michigan at least $63,000 for “additional expenses” including box office personnel, security, stadium staff, portable toilets, golf cart rentals, medical staff and additional support….

The contract specified that Relevent would also receive 100 percent of profits from university-controlled parking, but Relevent had to provide 800 free parking spaces to U-M’s athletic department and game-day personnel. The company also kept all revenue, including ticket sales, concessions and media rights fees.

Besides promoting Guinness International Champions Cup matches across the country, Relevent Sports consulted with the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) to pitch MLS on an expansion franchise for a new downtown Vikings stadium. The firm is headed by Stephen Ross, who also owns the Miami Dolphins (NFL).

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August Publications