The success of Soccer Bowl 80, played Sunday before nearly 51,000 fans in RFK Stadium, exceeded the expectations of local organizers and North American Soccer League officials.The Cosmos defeated Fort Lauderdale, 3-0, for their third NASL title in four years.
"I was completely pleased with the way the event turned out," said Joe Riley, president of the Greater Washington Sports Authority, which backed the game. Riley said it had not yet been determined if the game was a financial success but added, "We had guaranteed $400,000 worth of seats would be sold and we far surpassed that, but I'll have no hesitancy about disclosing the financial statement when its completed."
"The success of the Soccer Bowl just shows how far soccer has come in Washington in such a short time," said Sara Vass, the District's coordinator of special events who was assigned to promote the game by Mayor Marion Barry. Vass dismissed notions that the game was extremely difficult to coordinate and would have no chance of returning to Washington.
"People just weren't aware how to sell a major sports event -- a soccer game at that -- to a Redskin-crazy community," Vass said. "I'd be more than happy to do it again."
"There has only been very casual, friendly conversation in regard to the chances of the game returning to Washington -- nothing said formally though," Durwood Settles, Soccer Bowl chairman, said.
A spokesman for Mayor Barry, an active participant in securing the game for the city, said Barry was very pleased with the result of the game, but he wasn't surprised. The thing he was most happy with was the fact that the city demonstrated it was a major league town.
The mayor left RFK Stadium seven minutes before the game ended and was not present when NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam thanked him and formally presented the championship trophy to the Cosmos on national television.
"The mayor went to the game as a fan and didn't want to distract the focus from the sports event," a spokesman said.
Woosnam termed the game an "outstanding success as far as everyone in the league was concerned. Give tremendous credit to the mayor, the newly created Sports Authority, Joe Riley and Derwood Settles, and to the entire business community for the entire support of this venture, and of course everyone of the Washington Dips, who did such a very fine job.
"We certainly hope, from a league point of view, to bring the game back here. RFK Stadium is one of the best soccer facilities in North America, and good viewing for about 55,000 people."