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Women’s World Cup

Attendance approaches 600,000 tickets sold.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Tuesday, June 29, 1999) -- Total attendance well in excess of 600,000 appears assured in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, according to estimates made today.

World Cup Organizing Committee president and chief executive officer Marla Messing said additional seating will be allowed for Thursday's quarterfinal match between the United States and Germany (as well as Nigeria-Brazil) at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Md. The original downsized limit was 41,000, but with ticket sales now at 42,000, it has been raised to 54,000-55,000.

Advance sale for Wednesday's doubleheader in San Jose (Calif.), featuring China-Russia and Norway-Sweden is 18,000. Ticket sales for the semifinals July 4 are more than 40,000 for Stanford (Calif.) and about 22,000 for Foxboro (Mass.)

Messing said the downsized capacity of Stanford, where the Americans will play if they defeat Germany, is 69,000, with the possibility of up to 84,000 though sight lines might be a problem. She said in excess of 60,000 tickets have been sold for the July 10 final (and third-place game) in Pasadena (Calif.), with the Rose Bowl capacity 86,773.

Total attendance for the first round was 380,820, an average of 32,485 including 21,698 for non-U.S. doubleheaders.

Other highlights of Messing's teleconference call with media:

* She defended the scheduling that has come under criticism from China and North Korea, among other teams, saying it was important for marketing purposes to have the U.S. team appear in six of the seven sites (providing it wins the Germany match Thursday). "We had to know where they were going to play," she said.

Besides travel inequities, this also had led to:

1. The United States, a top seed, playing Germany, another top seed, in the quarterfinals, where under normal procedures it would likely have met Sweden or Russia, both lesser teams.

2. The possibility of two teams playing each other a second time, before the finals. It's not likely in one bracket, with China and Norway heavy favorites to reach the semifinals. But it could happen in the U.S.-Germany-Nigeria-Brazil grouping.

3. The four quarterfinal winners going to opposite coasts to play the semifinals, the Landover survivors going to Stanford, and the San Jose winners journeying to Foxboro.

* Television ratings were 1.7 on ABC for the U.S.-Denmark opener, 1.85 on ESPN for U.S.-Nigeria, and 1.96 on ESPN2 for U.S.-North Korea. The non-U.S. figures were 0.82 on ESPN and 0.51 on ESPN2.

* "Merchandise is consistently selling out at many of the venues," Messing said.

* The Women's World Cup site on the Internet is getting 2 million hits "on game days . . . from 94 countries (total) . . . and 1.5 million hits on off-days."

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

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