This summer, Baltimore City hosted the CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals at M&T Bank Stadium. Soccer fans piled into the stadium for the matches that kicked off at 5:06 P.M. and 8:06 P.M on July 18th.
Cuba and USA battled it out in the first quarterfinal match of the night, ending with a final score of 6-0 and USA advancing to the semifinals. Jamaica and Haiti were the next match, and Jamaica scored one in the first half that ended up being their sole goal of the game, helping them advance to the semifinals against USA.
M&T Bank Stadium was roaring with fans from all over the world and each team had a well respected audience. Around 40,000 tickets were sold for the quarterfinals, allowing fans to see two separate matches. Acting as a knockout round for the semifinals worked to Baltimore’s advantage to ticket sales and spectators who wanted to witness not only two, but four teams duke it out for what may be their last game of the tournament.
“Big picture, the event went smoothly. We’re always going to run into some hurdles to overcome when putting on an event this size, but overall things went off without any major issues. Most importantly, the public (fans) and CONCACAF were pleased. There was good cooperation from the Ravens and MSA staff, which made our jobs much easier” said Steve Olivarez, assistant manager for the Gold Cup Quarterfinals at M&T Bank.
Several players, officials and fans praised how well the facility looked for the matches. One Jamaican player even asked “This isn’t a grass field? There’s turf under here?” The answer is yes. The sod was shipped in and rolled out onto the field the week prior to the matches. Many players from each team went on to say how this field was the nicest field they had played on so far in Gold Cup. Players were overall impressed with the venue as well as the event, minus the heat. Because it was so hot, with temperatures going into the 90s, water breaks were implemented during each half of the first match to prevent any unnecessary dehydration.
Jason Amaguaña, venue manager for the Gold Cup as well as the Director of Operations for D.C. United, had positive things to say about his overall experience orchestrating this event. “It was a great event, but I was hoping for a bigger crowd of U.S. fans to show up especially with recent support of the Women’s team. CONCACAF had nothing but positive things to say about M&T Bank, the staff helping with the event, and the city of Baltimore. I hope that it is chosen for next year’s Copa America and that I am able to help again. With so many parties and layers involved for this event, things could have gone bad fairly quickly, but having the support of staff from Maryland Sports and Elite Tournaments helps a lot to make things go smoothly. It is always great to have a group behind you that can be trusted and that can even anticipate needs. I always learn something new from Terry, Ashley, and Matt and I can’t wait to do this again sometime soon.”
M&T Bank Stadium hopes to host Gold Cup again in 2017.