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Wednesday 12. February 2020 - 11:28

Barcelona and Real Madrid might collide at NFL’s Las Vegas stadium

Soccer’s greatest club spectacle might take its act to the entertainment capital of the world this summer.

Promoters of an annual U.S. summer tour want to arrange a Barcelona-Real Madrid match at the new NFL stadium in Las Vegas, multiple people familiar with the discussions said this week.

If a deal is struck, it would serve as the first sporting event at Allegiant Stadium, a $1.9 billion venue built for the Raiders, who are relocating from Oakland. The NFL season will begin in early September.

One source cautioned that other facilities are under consideration, including SoFi Stadium, the new NFL venue in greater Los Angeles. The match would be part of the International Champions Cup, an annual preseason tournament for European clubs.

"We are always exploring compelling matches, but at this time, no ICC matches are finalized," said Ben Sosenko, spokesman for the tournament organizer, Relevent Sports Group.

A spokesman for Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will managed the Las Vegas stadium, did not return a message.

The only scheduled events at Allegiant Stadium so far are UNLV football games, starting in late August, the Pac-12 football championship game and Las Vegas Bowl.

The venue will hold 61,000 for soccer. The permanent playing surface is artificial turf, but like the NFL stadium in suburban Phoenix, a grass field will slide in and out of the domed facility.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have been regular visitors to the United States. In 2017, they played one another before a sellout crowd in Miami.

Last summer, Real Madrid made ICC appearances in Houston (vs. Bayern Munich), Landover, Md. (Arsenal), and East Rutherford, N.J. (Atletico Madrid). Barcelona played Napoli in the La Liga-Serie A Cup in Miami and Ann Arbor, Mich.

The rivalry, known as El Clasico, dates from 1902, and the two meetings each La Liga season are among the most highly anticipated in global soccer. This season, defending champion Barcelona, featuring Lionel Messi, trails first-place Real Madrid by three points after 23 of 38 matches.

The ICC was launched in 2013 by RSE Ventures, which is owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. What began primarily as a North American event has expanded to Europe, Asia and Australia.

A U.S.-based women’s tournament was added in 2018.

The New York Times reported last month that, after years of bankrolling the ICC, Ross is seeking the big European clubs to invest in a more competitive event.

Relevent has been stymied in its attempts to arrange a La Liga regular season match in the United States.

Organizers will complete plans for this year’s ICC in the next few weeks, Sosenko said.

FedEx Field, home to the Washington Redskins, has been a semi-regular destination for the ICC, but this year, D.C. United’s Audi Field is the local front-runner, multiple people familiar with the selection process said.

United officials said they did not want to comment on any specific events, though they are planning to stage several non-league matches this year.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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