The North American Soccer League announced yesterday that the 1980 Soccer Bowl will be played in RFK Stadium Sept. 20.
Washington was awarded the NASL championship game after getting into the race for the game seven weeks ago. The bid for the game was the brainchild of John Carbrary, former general manager of the Washington Dipolomats.
The team president, Steve Danzansky, and Carbray approached D. c. Major Marion Barry with the idea shortly before the 1979 Soccer Bowl in Giants Stadium in New Jersey on Sept. 8.
Bary was enthusiastic and went to New York the day after the Soccer Bowl to ask league owners to delay their decision on where to play the game. Since the alternatives were Detroit, a struggling soccer town, New England, also struggling, or Vancouver, with a 33,000-seat stadium, they agreed to the delay.
Barry, Danzansky and Carbray then set about putting together local business groups to guarantee the league a major effort would be put into the Soccer Bowl if it came to Washington.
Working with business groups throughout the area, Barry put together an ad hoc group of business-men who guaranteed league owners in their presentation yesterday that they would sell 40,000 tickets to the game.
That was good enough for leaque owners. Vancouver, Detroit and New England withdrew their bids and the owners voted 22-1 (Vancouver being the one), with Detroit abstaining, to award the game to Washington.
The game will be part of a week long "festival," which is tentatively scheduled to include youth tournament, parades and feature events involving the two teams in the game.
Barry's office wanted the game for Washington because it gives the city a chance to put on its best face for national and international press who gather at the Soccer Bowl site.
"We also want to encourage soccer in the inner city," Barry said yesterday.
"I'm a little embarrassed that Fairfax County has 4,000 teams when I, see what we have.
"Most of our kids play football or basketball. We're hoping having the Soccer Bowl here will encourage more of them to play soccer."
From the Dips' point of view the game is a bonanza because it legitimizes the franchise to a certain extent and gives them another vechicle to promote soccer.
"It can do nothing but help this franchise," said Madison Square Garden President Sonny Weblin. "Does this put soccer in Washington in a make-or-break position to draw 40,000 for the game?
"Well, I would think it puts soccer in this country in a make-or-break position to draw 40,000. I'd rather think in terms of turning 10,000 people away at the gate."
"We thought it was a little crazy at first," said NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam. "But when we heard the presentation by Washington we were all convinced that the city would do an excellent job with the game and the entire week of activites."
Actually, Washington bailed the NASL out of an embarrassing position . The league did not want to put the game in the New York area for a third year in a row because that would be an admission it cannot sell the game in other markets.
Vancouver, because of location and stadium size, was unacceptable and Detroit and New England were risks. But Washington, because it is the nation's capital, gave the league an outlet that is second only to metropolitan New York in terms of glamour -- which appeals greatly to the league.
When the business groups came forward to guarantee the sale of 40,000 tickets, Washington had made an offer the NASL could not refuse.