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Tickets for the Nov. 1 match between the United States and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago went on sale to the general public Monday, and USA Rugby is touting that 32,000 have already been sold. There's still plenty of room in the 61,500-seat NFL stadium, but the early wave of sales is notable.
32,000 people at one match would make it the most-attended rugby game on American soil in the modern era, eclipsing the record set by the 2013 Ireland test at BBVA Compass in Houston - 20,181.
Reports and rumors have the All Blacks being guaranteed a $1 million pay day just for showing up. If indeed that's the bill, and USA Rugby is the group on the hook for it, not a sponsor like AIG or something along those lines, then the fact that 32,000 tickets have already sold should have USA Rugby big wigs breathing a sigh of relief. Rough, unscientific calculations, multiplying the median ticket price of $67.50 by 32,000, have current ticket revenues north of $2 million.
People are buying these tickets in droves. One Facebook friend of mine purchased 125 all at once with money he'd collected from his friends so they could sit together. Others, though perhaps on a smaller scale, are organizing bulk purchases.
A story on USA Rugby's website projects the game will be sold out by July. This is all stupendously good news for rugby in America. A sold out Soldier Field, coupled with the recent success of USA Sevens, the June tests in Houston and the sold-out Maori game will propel rugby forward. Not only will it bode well for the USA's chances to host the 2018 7s World Cup, which it has already announced its intention to bid for, but future 15s World Cups.
We all know the sport of rugby is awesome, but selling out an NFL stadium in the height of American football season would go a good distance toward letting NBC, potential investors in a pro league or the game in general, the city of Chicago, and the rest of America in on the secret.