With the wildly popular U.S. team in town for a quarterfinal match Thursday night against Germany, Women's World Cup organizers plan to make several thousand more seats available by opening parts of the upper deck at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.
Officials in Washington and at tournament headquarters in Los Angeles worked all day yesterday but were unable to finalize the details. An announcement likely will be made today.
"We are still looking at and evaluating the situation," tournament spokesman Richard Finn said. "It's a pleasant problem to have."
Under the tournament's long-standing downsizing plan, capacity for Thursday's doubleheader -- which also includes Brazil against Nigeria -- was 41,110 at the 80,116-seat stadium. But with about 40,000 tickets gone by yesterday afternoon and phones still ringing at a frantic pace, organizers determined many more seats probably would be necessary to meet the demand.
To complicate matters, some fans who contacted the Women's World Cup toll-free number were told Thursday's games were sold out. (However, tickets were available through local outlets.)
One of the issues was how much to charge for the newly available seats. Under the downsized plan, tickets for the quarterfinals cost $30, $50 and $75, but the cheapest seats behind the goals have been listed as sold out for a couple of weeks.
By setting prices at $30 for upper deck seats, organizers said over the weekend that they feared upsetting fans who wanted the lower-priced seats but had to pay $50 or $75 before the new tickets became available.
Minor construction in the upper deck of Cooke Stadium apparently will limit the number of seats that would be made available.
In the first round that concluded Sunday, the undefeated Americans played before crowds of 78,792 at Giants Stadium near New York, 65,080 at Soldier Field in Chicago and 50,484 at Foxboro (Mass.) Stadium. In anticipation of the U.S. team advancing to the title game, about 55,000 tickets have been sold for the July 10 final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
First-round doubleheaders at Cooke Stadium last Wednesday and Sunday drew 16,448 and 22,109, respectively. Organizers had limited tickets for those games to the lower bowl and parts of the club section for a downsized capacity of 26,757. Giant synthetic cutouts of soccer balls were scattered around the upper deck and parts of the club section to cover unneeded seats.
For several months leading up to the tournament, the Washington venue had lagged behind the seven other sites in ticket sales. But the first-round attendance figures put Cooke Stadium just 2,000 below the average for games not involving the United States.
The ticket demand in Washington accelerated late last week when it became apparent that the U.S. team would probably play here in the next round. It continued again just moments after the Americans beat North Korea Sunday night to secure their quarterfinal destination.
"I planned to leave the office when that game ended," said Paul Marstaller, the senior ticket sales representative whose office at the stadium oversees group sales. "All of a sudden, all four lines lit up. It was nuts. And it's been pretty heavy today too."
Notes: The U.S. team arrived in the Washington area yesterday and took the day off. Training sessions are scheduled for 11 a.m. today and Wednesday at George Mason University and are open to the public. Germany, which played a 3-3 tie with Brazil here Sunday, practiced last night at Cooke Stadium and will train at 6:30 p.m. today at George Mason. Brazil will go at 4 today at GMU. Nigeria is taking the day off. . . .
Midfielder Martina Voss, Germany's leader in international appearances who missed the first two games with a leg injury, was re-injured during Sunday's game and is out of the tournament. . . .
Norway defender Linda Medalen does not have a broken nose, as feared by the coaching staff following Saturday's win over Japan, and is probable for Wednesday's quarterfinal against Sweden in San Jose.
Women's World Cup
Wednesday, San Jose, Calif.
China (3-0) vs. Russia (2-1), 8 p.m.
Norway (3-0) vs. Sweden (2-1), 10:30 p.m.
Thursday, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium
United States (3-0) vs. Germany (1-0-2), 7 p.m.
Brazil (2-0-1) vs. Nigeria (2-1), 9:30 p.m.
CAPTION: With U.S. team coming to town, Women's World Cup organizers are looking into adding more seats by opening parts of upper deck at Cooke Stadium.