BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Tens of thousands of soccer fans flock to Baltimore this weekend as M&T Bank Stadium hosts a world-class European soccer match. It means full hotels and restaurants and international exposure for Charm City.
Monique Griego has more on the impact.
The excitement over Saturday’s game is already building throughout the city. And fans from all over the world are expected to give local businesses a boost.
It’s not the football we’re used to seeing at M&T Bank Stadium. But Saturday’s face-off between two European soccer teams is expected to pack the stands just like the previous match did.
“Just looking forward to seeing Liverpool play. I’ve never seen them play before,” Paul Hagan, a Liverpool fan said.
The British Invasion is bringing in two premiere league teams– Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool– as players warmed up on the field.
Fans who’ve come to Baltimore from all over the world were also gathering.
“The fan base in Baltimore is a growing fan base. We’ve always had huge supporters for a number of years here,” Randy Sherman of Slainte Irish Pub said.
Slainte in Fells Point is a hub for European soccer fans. But it’s not the only business set to benefit.
“Every game spins off to restaurants, to hotels and beyond,” Kirby Fowler of the Downtown Partnership said.
At Baltimore’s last soccer game in 2010, around 36,000 tickets were sold. This year has already topped that with more than 40,000.
The sport’s growing popularity was evident at Patterson Park.
Some of Liverpool’s coaches put on a free soccer clinic, giving local kids a chance to practice like the pros.
“We didn’t think it would be as big numbers as this. So it’s great everyone came out for it,” Forbes Duff of the Liverpool Football Club said.
“I want it to become more popular because I like it so much. It’s my favorite game,” soccer fan Jeanmarie Zotamou said.
In addition to the soccer match, there is also an Orioles game on Saturday. And the Japanese Anime convention, Otakon runs through the weekend. All three of those events combined are expected to bring around 100,000 people downtown.
The game starts Saturday at 1 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium. Tickets are still available.