Real Madrid and Juventus FC, two of club soccer's most iconic franchises, are coming to Las Vegas.
The powerhouses, which won their respective league titles this season, will meet Sunday, Aug. 5 at Sam Boyd Stadium as part of the 2012 World Football Challenge. The game, which will kick off at 8 p.m. to minimize the effect of the desert summer heat, will be played on a specially constructed grass field which will measure 110 by 71 yards.
Tickets, priced at $68 to $178 plus service fees, go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center box office and online at UNLVtickets.com. Parking is included in the price of the tickets.
"This rivals anything Las Vegas has seen for a live sporting event, including a major fight or the (NBA) All-Star Game," said Daren Libonati, president and COO of Justice Entertainment Group. "We've worked two years on trying to bring this to Las Vegas, and I see it as a game-changer for how we do things in the future when it comes to soccer and other sports."
The contract calls for Real Madrid, the Spanish La Liga champion, and Juventus, the Italian Serie A champ, to bring their top players to Las Vegas. That means local fans will get to see Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid's sensational striker, along with Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus' world-class goalkeeper who led Italy to the 2006 World Cup championship.
Both teams will play multiple opponents while in North America as the WFC kicks off July 18. But Las Vegas will be the lone head-to-head match-up for Real and Juventus.
"It was a very difficult negotiation to get involved with this," Libonati said of the WFC, which began in 2010 and will include several Major League Soccer teams participating, along with additional club teams from England (Chelsea and Liverpool), Italy (AC Milan) and France (Paris Saint-Germain). "They were concerned about the heat in Las Vegas in August, and they had questions about our lack of history when it comes to soccer. Plus, they insisted on a grass field.
"I tried to sell it as if it were similar to promoting a major boxing match. I will be absolutely shocked if this game doesn't sell out, and we're hoping this will be the start of what will be Las Vegas becoming a world destination for soccer, just like boxing is. Once they see what we have to offer as a city, they'll want to come back."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.