Facing an unexpected demand for tickets to see the U.S. team, Women's World Cup organizers yesterday scrambled to make available an additional 13,000 to 14,000 seats at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium for Thursday night's quarterfinal doubleheader that includes the Americans.
With portions of the upper deck opened at the 80,116-seat stadium, capacity for the United States-Germany and Brazil-Nigeria games will be near 55,000. The added seats -- most of which are along the sidelines, according to venue director Heather Quinn -- cost $30 apiece.
"This is a positive development in that the demand has outstripped the supply," said Marla Messing, the tournament president and CEO. "Our objective is to put as many people in these stadiums as possible."
In preparation for the tournament, organizers had set a quarterfinal downsized capacity of 41,110 that consisted of the lower bowl, club seats and suites. But 5,000 tickets were sold on Monday -- a single-day tournament record, Messing said -- and only a few hundred high-priced tickets remained yesterday.
The upper deck has more than 30,000 seats, but some sections were not available because of minor construction.
Messing said one of the primary concerns of opening more seats was the pricing. Tickets for the quarterfinals cost $30, $50 and $75, but the cheapest seats behind the goals had been listed as sold out for a couple of weeks.
By setting prices at $30 for the upper deck, organizers risked angering fans who wanted the lower-priced seats but had to pay $50 or $75 before the new tickets became available.
"We discussed it pretty thoroughly," Messing said. "We tried to do the right thing. Seats up there should be Category 3 [$30]. That's the appropriate price."
Prior to the start of the tournament, ticket sales for Cooke Stadium games lagged behind the seven other venues. Thus, "we did not think it would be necessary to increase capacity beyond 41,000," Messing said. "But in the last couple of days, the pace has accelerated beyond what we expected."
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.
But with the undefeated Americans coming to town, interest soared.
Asked if she thought the new capacity would be reached, Messing said: "We will do well, but I don't know if we'll sell it out. We expect a terrific crowd."
In the first round, the U.S. team 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, 40,000 tickets have been sold for a July 4 semifinal at Stanford Stadium in northern California and 60,000 for the July 10 final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Notes: Because of the large crowd expected Thursday at Cooke Stadium, organizers are advising fans to arrive early, especially those who need to pick up tickets at will-call windows. Those tickets can be obtained at the stadium box office at Gate A today until 8 p.m. and Thursday between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then from 4 p.m. till kickoff. . . .
The U.S. team will practice this morning at Cooke Stadium instead of George Mason University. It is closed to the public. . . .
Messing expects about 20,000 fans for tonight's quarterfinal doubleheader (China-Russia and Norway-Sweden) at San Jose's Spartan Stadium.