For the second year in a row, UC Berkeley will serve host to a match involving at least one of the world’s premier soccer programs. Manchester United will take on Major League Soccer’s Bay Area affiliate, the San Jose Earthquakes, at Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium.
The game is set to take place July 21 and makes Berkeley one of the hosts of the 2015 Guinness International Champions Cup. This match will give Bay Area fans the chance to see Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie from Manchester United, both widely renowned soccer players. Last year’s match, which was also an International Champions Cup match, was between Real Madrid C.F. and F.C. Internazionale Milano. Sponsors will hope for a repeat of last year’s game in terms of excitement: It was a thriller that was decided in penalty kicks, resulting in a 2-1 Inter Milan win.
The game was played before a sold-out crowd of 62,583. Last year’s game brought revenue to various divisions of the campus, most of which was geared toward funding the athletics programs at Cal. Game organizers will look for the match to have a similar effect this year.
“We are excited to have an opportunity to build on the success of last year’s sold-out match by hosting two world-renowned soccer clubs at the world’s leading public university,” said John Wilton, campus vice chancellor for administration and finance, to Cal Athletics. “Not only will it give us a chance to share our beautiful campus with fans and families from across Northern California — it will have a positive economic impact on the city of Berkeley and generate revenue to support our athletics programs and core mission of excellence and access in teaching and research.”
Another success at hosting the game would be likely to set up a partnership between UC Berkeley and Relevent Sports, the organizers of the annual International Champions Cup.
“We are thrilled to bring the International Champions Cup back to Berkeley for the second consecutive year, as Cal is a tremendous partner,” said Charlie Stillitano, chair of Relevent Sports, to Cal Athletics. “Bringing another outstanding club like Manchester United to play the local Major League Soccer team the San Jose Earthquakes will make for an extremely exciting atmosphere.”
In fact, bringing Manchester United to Memorial Stadium has the potential to be an even bigger boon to the campus and to the recognition the stadium receives. Manchester United, England’s premier club, is often recognized as the world’s most popular team. It will likely be a large enough draw to easily sell out Memorial Stadium and will draw a huge television audience so that people around the world are given the opportunity to see an event hosted by UC Berkeley. This can be hugely important because showing the rest of the world the merits of hosting an event at Memorial Stadium can help UC Berkeley create more partnerships in the future and book more large events to take place at the stadium, thus bringing in even more money to the campus’s athletic and academic programs.
The game between United and the Earthquakes is one of three International Champions Cup games hosted in Northern California. The Earthquakes will take on Club America at Avaya Stadium in San Jose on July 14, while United will play F.C. Barcelona at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on July 25 — but these have been in such high demand that they are already sold out.
To ensure that UC Berkeley students are given the opportunity to score tickets to such a sought-after event, there is an initial presale period starting May 28. In this period, tickets starting at $45 will be sold to UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff before the general public gets a chance at them. Tickets go on sale for the public May 29.
Hooman Yazdanian is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].