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Miller Park Readies for a (Different) “Beautiful Game”
Soccer stays in the spotlight when a pair of international squads square off in a friendly.

While many footie fanatics are still buzzing about the World Cup (considered by many to be the best Cup in memory), fans can be forgiven for feeling a little withdrawal after more than a month of scintillating soccer. Those looking to get their fix can turn to the Brewers, as Miller Park hosts its first-ever international soccer game 8 p.m. Wednesday.

More than 30,000 tickets have been sold for the Chivas de Guadalajara vs. Swansea City match, a faceoff that’s been in the works for almost two years.

“As an organization, we are always looking for additional opportunities to use Miller Park outside of baseball,” says Jason Hartlund, vice president of Brewers Enterprises and event services. “We’ve been in conversations with Major League Soccer for the better part of 18 to 24 months – expressing our interest in hosting a match.”

The historic Mexican club (Chivas) and the Premier League pros (Swansea) will play on a converted pitch stretching from the first-base dugout to the left-field wall. Hartlund says they are working to preserve the integrity of the baseball turf so it can return to its original state quickly.

Photo courtesy of Swansea City Association Football Club

Both clubs have achieved notable success and enjoy a substantial international following. Also known as Club Deportiva Guadalajara, Chivas has secured 11 first division titles and two Copa México trophies. Welsh club Swansea City joined the English Premier League in 2011 and won the League Cup in 2013, qualifying it for the 2013-2014 UEFA Europa League.

“By hosting two clubs of this caliber, it’s really going to expose Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin to people who otherwise might not have Milwaukee on their radar,” Hartlund says.

Swansea City created an “all you need to know about Milwaukee” guide for its fans visiting from the United Kingdom. It explains: “In America, tailgating isn’t driving too close to the driver in front – it’s a sports/eating/drinking experience!”

James Moran, founder and executive director of the Milwaukee Soccer Development Group, hopes the game will bolster support for the return of a professional outdoor soccer team in Milwaukee. He and four other panelists are holding a symposium 6 p.m. Tuesday at the City Hall Rotunda in order to spark discussion for a potential team.

“Our ultimate goal is to build up support for a team and get the community behind it,” Moran says. “A lot of people talk about [getting a team], but nobody actually does anything. This is the first step in the process of trying to do something.”

Moran says MSDG positioned the symposium to coincide with the World Cup and the Miller Park match.

Other panelists include Peter Wilt, president and general manager of Indy Eleven, and the former GM of Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire; Nik Kovac, alderman for the city of Milwaukee; Keith Tozer, technical director of the U.S. Futsal National Team and former longtime Milwaukee Wave coach; and Ginny McCullough, founder and president of the Women’s Soccer Club.

Our very own sports aficionado Howie Magner will moderate the event.

Tickets for the Miller Park match range in price from $25 to $70 and can still be purchased online. Chivas will host a free open practice at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the park.

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