By EJ STOUT
Soccer fans from all over the globe flocked to Ann Arbor this past weekend for a chance to be part of history, and they pulled it off. A record 109,318 supporters — the largest soccer crowd in U.S. history — packed into the Big House to watch Manchester United play Real Madrid.
Saturday’s matchup was the first soccer game – professional or collegiate – ever to be played at Michigan Stadium. The field, which has been equipped with artificial turf since 2002, was converted to natural grass just days before the teams met. The game was broadcast around the world in nearly 40 countries.
Michigan Stadium has been used for just three events beyond football or NCAA-sanctioned events, beginning with the 2010 Big Chill and 2014 Winter Classic ice hockey events.
But the game attracted a much more diverse crowd. Unlike typical U-M football games, the average age of Saturday’s attendees was noticeably younger. Many families were in attendance as young children seemed eagerly invested in the sport.
Prior to the game, fans had many opportunities to enjoy their time in Ann Arbor. From 3-11 p.m., a few streets in downtown Ann Arbor were closed to traffic as visitors were able to enjoy live music and dancing at two separate stages. While the final numbers have not been calculated, the estimated economic impact for Washtenaw County is between $15 million and $20 million.
Manchester United came away with a 3-1 victory over Real Madrid.
Next, the undefeated team headed to Sun Life Stadium in Miami where it beat out also undefeated Liverpool 3-1 for the International Champions Cup title.
See below for a photo gallery of the weekend’s festivities.