I attended the Inter Milan-Manchester City “friendly” last night at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Here is an article describing the game. From my somewhat jaded perspective, sitting among the Man City faithful, the referee ruined the game by 1) getting taken in by the unbelievable diving ability of the Inter Milan club, and 2) giving a red card to a Man City player at about the 20 minute mark after one of the aforementioned dives by the Inter Milan players. So Man City played a man down for 70 minutes and the Italian club took full advantage of that. To be honest, the events leading up to the ejection reminded me eerily of Zidane’s ejection from the World Cup final. I commented to my wife that pre-season must be when the Italians practice instigating fights with opponents to induce ejections. The Man City faithful erupted with a chant of “the referee is a wanker” at the ejection.
Two weeks ago, I posted here about concerns with the low ticket sales and what they might mean for Baltimore’s chances to be a World Cup venue. There was much speculation about the difference between 72,000 sold out for the game between Chelsea and AC Milan last year and this year’s event. The announced crowd for the match last night was over 36,000. Concerns about the effect on World Cup prospects were in the Baltimore Sun this morning. New explanations for the smaller attendance included the number of international matches in the region this year and World Cup burnout. Baltimore’s television ratings for the World Cup were the second highest in the country.
It was interesting to see and hear the reaction of the British fans to what one of them described as “daylight robbery”. A fellow sitting next to my son ordered four beers from the vendor working the aisles, and handed down a $20 bill. The vendor said, “It’s $34”. $8.50 a can for beers. And still the bunch around me was clearly fully in the bag, as the frequent appearance of stadium security and Baltimore police in our section attests. On the economic issue, however, I think most of the revenue, from ticket sales, parking, and concessions, goes to the Baltimore Ravens whose marketing arm handles advertising, ticket sales, and arranging for events at the publicly funded stadium. Think of all the unexplained variation in marginal revenue product estimates for NFL players in such circumstances.
Update: The Monday Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens executive in charge of organizing the international soccer event said that despite the low attendance, “This is still going to be a successful event. We’re not losing money tonight.” In fact, except for those matches involving Manchester United, the Man City-Inter Milan game had the largest attendance of any of the international matches in the US this year to date.