There have been rumors circulating for the past 24 hours, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier today confirmed that Chelsea will play Manchester City in a friendly at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 23rd.
“We hope at minimum this will be an annual event, that we can bring two great international teams or the U.S. national team and play here in Busch Stadium,” said Vicki Bryant, vice president, event services and merchandising for the Cardinals. “It’s important for the city.”
The planned tour of America by the English clubs, which also includes a game in New York, fit perfectly with the Cardinals’ being on the road. Last week, officials from Manchester City visited Busch to look over the stadium, and Bryant said they were impressed.
Tickets for the match will start at $30, and seats in all-inclusive areas of the park will start at $140. (Bryant said about 40 percent of the seats will be at $55 or less.) Seats will be added on the field while some in the upper deck in right field won’t be sold, bringing capacity to the game to about 42,000. Bryant said they’re hoping for a sellout, with fans coming from outside the area to see the game.
Fitting a soccer field into Busch Stadium will be a tight squeeze. The field will run from in front of the visiting dugout on the third-base line, along the first-base line, to the right field stands. It will be just short of 100 meters long, the minimum allowable length for an international match, which would probably preclude playing World Cup qualifying matches here. But because this match is an exhibition game, being a few feet short is permissible.
This is great news, and a major coup for the city of St. Louis, who is long overdue for a friendly of this magnitude . Let’s hope that this is just the first of many high-profile friendlies in the Gateway to the West.