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Baltimore promoters look on positive side

This summer's international friendlies haven't enjoyed the success of the games during the 2009 "Summer of Soccer." Saturday's Inter Milan-Manchester City match at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium drew 36,569 fans. Last summer Chelsea and AC Milan attracted more than 71,000.

Dick Cass, the NFL Ravens president, isn't discouraged by the crowd.  "We're going to try to get another match next summer. We will definitely try to get another match. I think you have to try to be consistent. You have to build up a following. I think that's what we're trying to do."

Cass speculated a variety of factors went into the smaller crowd, including the sophistication of the U.S. soccer fan. Many of the international stars on the two teams didn't play in Saturday's game, making it more like an NFL team's fourth preseason game, where stars sit out, than a meaningful match.

Baltimore is one of 18 cities in the U.S. bid for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022, and the game's promoters said the teams were happy with how they were treated. "And that starts to resonate up the ladder of international circles," Terry Hasseltine, director of Maryland's office of sports marketing, said.

Read the whole story at Baltimore Sun »

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