The biggest international soccer game on U.S. soil in 2015 is coming October 10 when the U.S. men’s national team meets Mexico in the Rose Bowl in the winner-take-all playoff to determine CONCACAF’s entrant in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. And now CONCACAF has announced how the ticket allocation process will work.
The U.S. and Mexican soccer federations will each be allocated around 30% of the 83,000 tickets available for the game. Another 30% will go into a ticket lottery much like the one used to allocate World Cup tickets. The other 10% will go to local teams and sponsors.
The federations will have until September 18 to sell their ticket allotments, with any unsold tickets being added to the lottery. The lottery will take place on September 18.
U.S. Soccer will begin the process of selling its allocated tickets on September 1 or 2, a federation spokesman said, working with priority groups of U.S. fans, including the American Outlaws supporters group. There will be designated sections of the stadium for U.S. fans and Mexico fans for the tickets allocated to the federations. The U.S. spokesman said the federation is confident it will sell all of its allotted tickets.
The system is being used “to make sure that we are creating a balanced environment in the stadium from the standpoint of support,” CONCACAF acting general secretary Ted Howard told SI.com. “We know from past history that if you put a match on in Los Angeles that it’s more of a Hispanic audience. And this will allow the U.S. federation to also have a balance somewhat equal to what the Mexican [federation will have] in order to promote a ‘neutral’ stadium. We’re trying not to favor one side or the other but to create the right environment for a match of this size.”
The U.S. and Mexican federations “are being told now … so they can reach out to their community with basically three weeks of time to talk to their fans,” Howard said. “And we know because of the size and magnitude of this match they shouldn’t have a great deal of difficulty having these tickets snapped up.”
Ticket prices will start at $49. Howard said the game will be broadcast on Spanish-language television in the U.S. by Univision.
“We’re still in the process of finalizing on the English side,” he added.
One campaign supported by the American Outlaws has raised more than $38,000 to send 500 U.S. military veterans to the game. Donors have included Jurgen Klinsmann, Jozy Altidore, Bob Bradley, Sacha Kljestan and Don Garber.
The game is the first of its kind in CONCACAF, which decided in 2013 that if different teams won the 2013 and ’15 Gold Cups there would now be a playoff to determine its Confederations Cup entrant. The U.S. won the ’13 Gold Cup, while Mexico won in ’15. Previously, the winner of the Gold Cup immediately preceding the Confederations Cup got the golden ticket.
“From a CONCACAF standpoint, this is probably the biggest game we’ve ever put on,” said Howard.
When asked why CONCACAF chose the Los Angeles area as the location, Howard said: “Because of the Rose Bowl and the size and magnitude of these two teams, this is a stadium that can handle this event and is well-known to everyone in the soccer community.”
He added that a home-and-home two-game playoff was not possible due to other FIFA dates being scheduled already.
The last time the U.S. played Mexico in the Rose Bowl was the 2011 Gold Cup final, which Mexico won 4-2. A heavy percentage of the sold-out crowd was pro-Mexico, and there were reports of incidents between fans of both teams in the stadium, with additional questions over the performance of stadium security that day.
Howard said CONCACAF will be prepared from a security perspective. “Just like any big match we’ve put on like the Gold Cup final … where we have numbers of different nationalities in place, you just have to become more sensitive to where you think your areas of concern are,” he said. “Certainly around the blocks of fans you want to make sure there is some security around that area. And then just other areas of the stadium, being vigilant and aware of where there are potential flash zones where things can happen.”
Howard said CONCACAF is also attempting to prevent projectiles, including bottles, from being thrown onto the field during the game.
“Everything in this match will be poured, whether it’s soda or water or beer,” he said. “The Rose Bowl is working with us on that so we can limit the number of objects that can be thrown or potentially injure somebody.”
“We’re thrilled to be able to put this match on and that all the pieces have come together,” he said.