âAfter I had the team, I said: âHey, I have this empty stadium. How do I get into this?ââ Ross said. âPeople in this country want to see the stars, thatâs what theyâre mostly interested in, and seeing the great teams in the world. Thatâs what theyâll really pay for and go see.â
Rossâs vision was to turn what was effectively a ticket-selling operation into one that sold the television rights to the matches globally and sealed large sponsorship agreements â a proposition that was, potentially, far more lucrative. After losing millions of dollars during its first four years, the I.C.C., Ross said, will turn a profit this year.
The marquee matchup is between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Miami, the first time the rivals have played each other outside Spain in over 30 years. Unlike the other matches in the I.C.C. this year â all of them glamorous matchups like Barcelona-Juventus, or Real Madrid-Manchester United, or United-Manchester City â Barca-Real is being sold not so much as a game but as a dayslong festival. A âSuper Bowl experience,â in the words of one Relevent executive.
It is a model Relevent hopes to repeat, perhaps soon; Barcelonaâs president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said last week that the teams were already discussing doing it again. Stillitano will surely be happy to arrange it.
Big Names, Big Games
When Barcelona defeated Juventus by 2-1 on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, it did so in front of 82,104 fans and on the strength of two goals by Neymar, its star Brazilian forward. The largest soccer crowd in New Jersey history saw two teams play their first-choice starters for at least 45 minutes, and Juventus pressed hard for the tying goal until the final whistle.
âWe cringe when managers say itâs just a training session,â Stillitano said, one day after the new Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde dismissed the…