For American fans of English soccer, a chance to see two big-name teams from England’s highest league, the Barclay’s Premier League, play without having to buy a plane ticket is a big deal.
That’s why the Baltimore Ravens and the Maryland Stadium Authority expect to sell out all 71,203 seats at M&T Bank Stadium on July 28, when they host an exhibition match between Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and Liverpool Football Club.
Premier League teams often play exhibition matches in the U.S., but usually against teams from other leagues.
“It is kind of unusual for teams in the same league to have an exhibition match. It’s akin to the Ravens playing the Steelers in a preseason game,” said Roy Sommerhof, vice president of stadium operations for the Ravens.
Philip Hosmer, 49, founder and president of the English Premier League Fans club in Bel Air, is an avid Liverpool fan, and said Friday, the same day the match was announced, that he would be there.
“I’m definitely going. I think everyone who is a fan of soccer is scrambling for tickets right now,” said Hosmer, who is also vice president of corporate communications for M&T Bank. “People have been emailing, calling, texting me for tickets, and even a guy from England texted me to see if I have an extra ticket, and it was only just announced.”
Said Baltimore resident and Tottenham fan Sam Fellman, 23: “If I can I’ll definitely go. We rarely get to see that level of soccer played in the U.S. It’s an opportunity to see my team play.”
M&T Bank Stadium sold out for a soccer game once before, when it hosted an exhibition match between popular Premier League team Chelsea and Italian team A.C. Milan in 2009.
A year later, though, an exhibition match at the stadium between the then-less popular Premier League team Manchester City and Italian team Inter Milan drew only 36,569 fans.
Ravens officials said they are hoping that this unique preseason matchup between two internationally known teams from one of the most prestigious leagues in the world will bring another sellout.
“What we really kind of look at when we try and do these matches is what kind of brand awareness do people in the Baltimore area have with these teams, and Liverpool internationally has a great brand, so we thought that would be a slam dunk,” Sommerhof said. “And Tottenham has a great brand, too. Having those two brands together we think will give us a great day on July 28.”
Liverpool has won a record eight Premier League Cups, and 18 league titles, which is the second-most in English soccer, along with seven FA Cups. Liverpool has also won more European titles than any other English club.
Tottenham has won four league cups, two league titles and eight FA Cups, along with two UEFA cups and one European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Sommerhof also said that Under Armour and baseball played a role in choosing Tottenham and Liverpool.
When the Ravens began trying to arrange the exhibition match last year, they learned that Baltimore-based Under Armour was about to sign a deal with Tottenham, and so they decided to reach out to the team.
Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, also owns Liverpool Football Club, and since Sommerhof and another colleague had contacts in the baseball world, they used them to get together with Liverpool.
Tickets for the match, which go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m., cost between $36 and $125.