What a ball
Organizer gets big kick from Cup's early success
Posted: Wednesday June 30, 1999 01:49 AM
The early success of the Women's World Cup has caught even its chief organizer off guard.
Marla Messing, president of the organizing committee for the three-week tournament, said Tuesday the tournament already surpassed many of her expectations.
"We have always believed in the potential of this tournament to be very successful, a breakthrough event for women's sports," Messing said during a conference call. "But we are frankly in awe of what has happened so far."
What has happened so far is:
"This is a demonstration that the tournament as a whole is being embraced by the fans, not just the U.S. team," Messing said. She called attendance at the non-U.S. games "our greatest achievement."
Overall ticket sales are at 570,000, far beyond early projections, and Messing said 600,000 is a possibility if the American team advances further. On Tuesday, organizers made available nearly 14,000 more seats at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Md., for Thursday's quarterfinals. The United States plays Germany and Brazil faces Nigeria in that doubleheader.
Originally, the stadium was downsized to 41,000 seats. But ticket demand has exceeded that figure after the U.S. team clinched a spot in the quarters.
As for the other venues, Wednesday's quarterfinals -- Norway vs. Sweden and Russia vs. China -- has sold 18,000 seats in San Jose, Calif. Sunday's semifinal at Foxboro, Mass., has sold 22,000. The semifinal at Stanford, Calif., where the Americans would play if they advance, has sold more than 40,000.
The final at the Rose Bowl on July 10 has sold more than 60,000. Capacity is 86,773 for soccer.
ESPN's audience for last Thursday's U.S.-Nigeria game drew a 1.85 rating, the second-highest soccer match on the network, behind the men's World Cup semifinal last year between Brazil and the Netherlands.
Last Sunday's U.S.-North Korea game on ESPN2 got a 1.96 rating, the highest for any soccer match on ESPN2 and the fifth most-watched event on the network.
Messing was asked about complaints made by the Russians and Chinese concerning travel. Should China make the final, it will have traversed the continent four times.
"It's difficult to put on a World Cup in the U.S. because the country so big, with the [four] different time zones," she said. "We did the schedule before we knew where any team would fall in the draw' except for the United States. FIFA gave us some guidelines. We met those.
"The reality of hosting the World Cup in the United States is the travel will be so much more."
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.