Melbourne has scored a soccer coup with the Andrews Government landing a new three-year deal to bring the world’s best teams to Victoria.
The MCG will host the International Champions Cup (ICC) until at least 2018 in the wake of a successful maiden tournament this month.
The deal, to be announced today, is expected to pour more than $150 million into the Victorian economy and bring more of Europe’s best soccer teams to town.
It comes after 99,382 people — Victoria’s largest soccer crowd — packed the MCG to watch Real Madrid defeat Manchester City on Friday night in the third and final leg of the inaugural tournament.
That figure meant the total attendance for the three matches equaled more than 223,000 fans.
Sports Minister John Eren said today’s announcement would enhance the state’s calendar of major events.
“The ICC will bring some of the best players on the planet to Victoria to work their magic at the best stadium in the world,” he said.
This year’s tournament brought tens of thousands of visitors from interstate and overseas to see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in action.
Half of the tickets sold before the tournament were to people from outside Victoria.
The NSW Government launched a rival bid to try to lure the event to Sydney but Victoria was granted exclusive hosting rights.
Future tournaments could see the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Juventus visit Melbourne before their domestic seasons.
FC Barcelona and Arsenal headline the wishlist for nest season, although the participants won’t be locked in until at least October.
With at least three more ICC events to be staged in Melbourne, Mr Eren said the city would again go on show to the world.
“The Cup will be great for fans and great for businesses,’’ he said. “Securing it will grow tourism, jobs and showcase our state to the world.’’
This month’s three-match tournament was hailed a success despite thousands of fans being locked outside the MCG for up to an hour in the rain on Friday night.
“They’re some of the best teams in the world and it’s at our best stadium so I would definitely come back again,’’ supporter Sam Grist said who travelled from the Gold Coast.
© 2015 News.com.au | This article was written by Peter Rolfe & David Davutovic and first appeared in The Herald Sun on 29 July 2015.