The 4,500 remaining tickets for Saturday's Women's World Cup final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., were snatched up within hours of the United States' semifinal victory over Brazil Sunday, tournament officials said, meaning that Saturday's championship match could be played before a record-breaking crowd of more than 85,000.
If that many people show up, the nationally televised final between the United States and China would be the largest attended women's-only sporting event in history, surpassing the crowd of 78,972 that attended the June 19 tournament-opening doubleheader at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The United States defeated Denmark in the opening match, 3-0.
"It's awesome," Women's World Cup Chief Executive Officer and President Marla Messing said. "There was nothing left when we got into work this morning. Everything went yesterday. It is beyond our wildest imagination. . . . We are in awe, ourselves, of what has happened."
The Women's World Cup media guide lists the Rose Bowl capacity as 86,773, but spokesman Steve Vanderpool said that figure was higher than the actual capacity. Vanderpool and Messing could not say how many tickets have been sold, but said it was more than 85,000.
Messing said tournament officials were surveying the stadium to determine whether more seats could be made available. Though 93,869 attended a 1994 men's World Cup match between the United States and Romania, that seating capacity is no longer possible because areas of bleacher seating have been converted to individual seats, which occupy more space.
Messing said organizers hoped to increase the capacity to about 87,000. Several rows at the field level have not been sold because the sight lines are poor, Messing said.
"Our people are walking the Rose Bowl right now, just to make sure that every seat that can be put on sale is put on sale," she said. "But there's nothing to buy right now."
Including the prospective numbers for the final, the tournament will have drawn about 650,000 spectators to 17 events at eight venues across the United States during the three-week tournament, for an average of about 38,000. The 1995 Women's World Cup in Sweden drew a total of 112,000.
The U.S. team will have played its six matches in front of average crowds of about 68,000. The numbers: 78,972 at the opener; 65,080 at Chicago's Soldier Field; 50,484 at Foxboro Stadium outside of Boston; 54,642 at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium; 73,123 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.; and some 85,000 at Saturday's final.