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Groupon helping Ravens sell soccer seats

It will be the first time in two years that M&T Bank Stadium has hosted an international soccer friendly, and to avoid another disappointing turnout like in 2010, officials for Saturday’s match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have opted to try a different approach in selling tickets.

The Ravens hope to draw 45,000 fans to Saturday’s match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at M&T Bank Stadium.

Baker Koppelman, Baltimore Ravens’ vice president of ticket sales and operations, chose to use Groupon to sell additional seats — a move that seems to be paying off, he said.

Chicago-based Groupon.com features daily deals on activities and events in different areas of the United States and Europe. Restaurants, local businesses and concerts have all been featured on the site.

“In comparison to 2010, we are a little ahead of the game,” Koppelman said about ticket sales. “We expect to exceed that.”

While this year’s match won’t sell out like the 2009 contest between Chelsea and AC Milan, the stadium’s first ever international soccer friendly, Koppelman said there could be as many as 45,000 shouting supporters in the stands by game time.

In 2010, 36,569 fans watched the match between Manchester City and Inter Milan.

Nicholas Halliwell, merchant public relations manager for Groupon, noted that in addition to Baltimore, the deal was extended to the Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia markets as well.

Halliwell said Groupon has shifted from what he called a “clearance-type” site, where offers consisted of things that business owners had trouble selling, to a useful tool for generating customers.

“They’ll use this to bring awareness to their event,” Halliwell said. “It’s selling well.”

From Thursday through Saturday, Groupon offered $45 seats for $22.

“We really wanted to try it because we felt like there are fans whose needs we needed to meet,” said Koppelman. “We’re reaching people that may not have considered going otherwise.”

Koppelman said the Ravens chose to offer seating in less desirable areas of the stadium that may have gone unsold for the Groupon deal.

He added that only a few thousand seats were available on the site, declining to be more specific.

“We wanted to see how it would do,” Koppelman said. “It’s something that is so predominant in our culture right now, and it makes sense for us to take a shot at it.

“Why wouldn’t you try it?”

Koppelman said the team was happy with the results, and while they still expect to sell many more tickets at full price — from $36 to $125, he hopes that this will give more incentive for fans to come to the match.

“It’s going to give us a nice push here at the end,” he said.