USA officials confident of an All Blacks sellout

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 11:48 31/07/2014
Soldier Field
USA Today Sports

AT THE FOOTBALL: Soldier Field is ordinarily the stadium for NFL team the Chicago Bears, but in November it hosts the USA Eagles' test against the All Blacks.

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Ticket sales for the All Blacks test in Chicago have reached 49,000, but rugby clearly has some way to go before it matches soccer's foothold in the United States.

The All Blacks play the US national team at Soldier Field, home of NFL-side the Chicago Bears, on November 1.

The stadium could hold 61,000 and organisers were quietly confident of a sellout for first match between the two sides on American soil since 1980.

That would represent a record crowd for a rugby match in the United States.

Rugby was desperate to crack the lucrative American market.

Football has taken a long time to achieve that, but Major League Soccer was now firmly established as a sporting heavyweight on the American scene and the country remained caught up in football fever following the national team's impressive showing at the recent World Cup in Brazil.

Heavyweight English and European teams were touring the US for pre-season games - and marketing opportunities - taking part in the "International Champions Cup".

That was highlighted by this weekend's clash in Detroit between Manchester United and Real Madrid that has scored 109,000 ticket sales.

Yesterday Manchester United beat Italian club Inter Milan on penalties in front of 61,238 spectators in Washington.

Liverpool, Manchester City, Greek side Olympiacos and AS Roma from Italy were also involved in the tournament that featured matches in Denver, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Berkley and further north in Toronto.

Meanwhile, audiences for Super Rugby have hit records as the competition gets set to wrap up with Saturday's final between the Waratahs and Crusaders in Sydney.

Sanzar bosses report Australia (246,000) and New Zealand (345,000) posted their highest average TV audiences for Super Rugby matches this year as the Waratahs beat the Brumbies and the Crusaders beat the Sharks in the semifinals.

South African fans produced an average audience of 350,000 for the Sharks' semifinal loss - 15 per cent higher than the corresponding New Zealand semifinal from 2013.

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