edmonton is lagging all other cities
If you build it, will they come?
By DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media
http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Soccer/200...un.html <br />
EDMONTON -- It's gonna be huge.
At least that's the slogan. Whether the FIFA Under-20 World Cup turns out to be as big as anticipated remains to be seen. But things are heading in the right direction.
"With the number of tickets forecast to be sold before and during the competition, it will probably be the second-highest attendance of any country that has hosted the event," Canadian Soccer Association president Colin Linford said. "Our numbers will probably be the second highest that the world have ever seen -- so that is huge."
Soccer aficionados can appreciate the magnitude of the event. This is one of FIFA's marquee championships -- second perhaps only to the World Cup itself.
"Normal Canadians as well as soccer followers are buying tickets which tells us something," Linford said. "I think this is big not just for soccer followers, but it|s big to many people, especially in some of the bigger cities. When you can get 52,000 to go out and watch a game in Montreal, that's big."
The opening game will be played on June 30 with Poland going up against Brazil in Montreal. It's one of four games scheduled for that day. The final takes place July 22 in Toronto.
"Every time there's a World Cup, there's an increase in player registration in this country because new people watch the game and then they decide it's a sport they want to participate in."
Canada has traditionally done well at this age group and once made it as far as the quarter-finals of this tournament.
"It's important that Canada do well to keep interest high, but it|s also important that Canada keep performing well at this age group," says Linford.
Positive results by the Canadians should help ticket sales in Edmonton, where so far they've been less than expected.
"Montreal has sold a lot of tickets, Toronto has sold out every game, the smaller areas like Burnaby and Victoria are obviously aware that this is probably the only opportunity they'll get to see players of this calibre and they're selling well," Linford said.
"But, we're a little disappointed in Edmonton. There hasn't been the support there as of yet.
"Maybe Edmonton is a walkup crowd; I don't know. Given the fact Canada is playing there, the numbers coming out of Edmonton are a lot less than we anticipated."
Canada -- drawn in a group with Chile, Austria, and Congo -- will play two of their three group matches in Edmonton. Commonwealth Stadium -- the largest of the six venues -- will play host to nine matches, including two second-round games, a quarter-final and a semi-final.
However some soccer fans in the city feel snubbed having seen the final awarded to Toronto and its newly-constructed stadium.
"That decision was made 18 months ago and I would hate to think that people are still living in the past," Linford said.
"We have to move forward and that's one of the issues we have with soccer in Canada -- we're constantly looking back as opposed to looking forward."
Every time Linford opens his mouth, I am finding myself liking him less and less.
The CSA has still has not realized the damage it did when announcing Toronto as host of the opening and final. You do not come to Edmonton and tell the media that 50,000 in edmonton to watch the final would be great. then two days later change their minds.
Edmonton is the mecca of sporting events. Over 50,000 for the Heritage Classic. The CFL loves getting 5 million for everytime the Grey Cup is here. The Brier and the Mens World Curling set new records before a stone is thrown. The u18 womens tournament help cement the u20 bid (yes the stadium in toronto helped) The IAAF even came to edmonton. I see more advertising for the rexall grand prix than the soccer tournament.
The key is the organizing commitee or board of directors. Eskimos and Oilers are models for the CFL and NHL. The Rush are getting there and the Cracker Cats will take a long time to gather support. Pro soccer will not succeed in Edmonton unless the right people step up. That will be in about 5-10 years.
When Allan Bolstad stepped down from the organizing commitee, people knew the reasons why. Ticket sales are way below expectations. Look at the rain out fiasco, the new organizing commitee is giving everyone a free ticket. That game was run by the CSA. Take the money and run, I guess is the new motto.
Soccer is at a all time high.
The TFC is doing great with crowds and winning.
Whitecaps last year champions and new stadium on horizon
Montreal averaging 10,000 a game and new stadium started
CNMT at the Gold Cup fantastic and brings hope of 2010
CNWT will be playing at the world cup
CSA bidding for the 2011 WWC with Canada's group and final in edmonton (for bidding purposes only)
Of course over 900,000 tickets sold for U20
Now with all this excitement, we start hearing all wcq games to be played in Toronto. I beg the CSA to spread it around and keep soocer in peoples minds.
Right now Edmonton is averaging about 25,000 a game. So expect about 35,000 and the quarter final about 40-45,000.
I think Edmonton's biggest problem has been with the LOC itself. From the time I originally volunteered for special events (my line of work) I was told that they'd definitely contact me as they had some things in mind. Time passed, Bolstad stepped down, and I only got a call in late May asking if I'd take 10 - 4 hours shifts at the Westin info table in case players or coaches had questions on what to do in the city. I tried running that one past the bosses, but unfortunatly, due to work schedule, I couldn't commit to that.
With this being the second largest single-sport event after the World Cup, I'd like to know how much leeway the LOC had in coming up with events and how much support from the soccer bodies they had planning them.
I'm happy that Northlands will be broadcasting the final game during Capital Ex (formerly Klondike Days) at their beer gardens which should make it like a fanfest in Germany, but why wasn't this done in a public (free admission) place like Churchill Square or Hawrelak Park or the Commonwealth Stadium parking lot for the duration of the tournament?
Sponsors could have taken care of most of the equipment costs (AV companies do that a lot) and any other festival using Churchill square (for example) could have enjoyed using the same setup.
Edmonton Tourism has done a bang up job in supporting the event, even producing (or significantly helping produce) the promo video at www.edmonton.com but the games aren't even listed in the City of Edmonton website (www.edmonton.ca).
Come on Edmonton! I've always huge faith the people of Edmonton and areas. (Not so keen on Calgary, but nobody asked, did they?)
It will be a bloody shame if we cannot get a good contingent out for our team. A bloody shame.
We're making a trip out of it. We'll be in Jasper and then Edmonton for the Quarter Final Game. I hope we get a good fixture.
Now I'm wondering how many people will show up for the Canada games?
If it's less than 30k each time, that would be pretty sad...
I think its all gonna come down to the first Canada game. I have faith!! An average of at least 35 000 wouldnt be the biggest disappointment. Its just that 20 000 empty seats in Commonwealth looks really bad. I dunno something about the stadium.
It will sell out.
I would be incredibly surprised if it did not.
The question is, will the CSA/FIFA have more than ONE FCKN ticket booth open for the walk up.
Edmonton not supporting soccer.....theres a real shock, never again should a national team game
at any level be played there.