Moncton may score more soccer matches with big turnout

The Canadian Soccer Association says the turnout for tonight's match between Canada and China may determine what sort of future events of this scale may have in Moncton.

Canada and China play at the University of Moncton on Wednesday night

Christine Sinclair, seen trapping while Heather Mitts of the U.S. looks on in a January game in Vancouver, will try to lead Canada past the group stage. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The Canadian Soccer Association says the turnout for tonight's match between Canada and China may determine the level of future international events that Moncton hosts in the future.

Canada’s women’s soccer team, which is ranked seventh in the world according to FIFA, is taking on China, the world’s 18th ranked team, at the University of Moncton in an international friendly.

The women’s soccer team is preparing for the Olympics that will be held later this summer in London.

If ticket sales in Moncton are a gauge, interest is continuing to build for the elite international soccer competition, according to Peter Montopoli, the secretary general of the Canadian Soccer Association.

He said the match is close to selling out the 8,500 seats at the stadium.

"We've progressed now to closer to 6,500 getting to 7,000," he said.

"We're very, very happy with the response so far. And maybe, with any luck, we can get very close to a sell-out position."

Montopoli said there were some constraints with the game that could be slowing some of the ticket sales.

The international friendly is being held on a Wednesday night instead of on a weekend, which may have helped draw a larger crowd. The schedule was designed this way because the Chinese team has already played in the United States and they want to get home as it is expensive to stay on the road.

The kick off is scheduled to be at 8 p.m. The late start is due to television schedules.

Montopoli said the soccer association will study ticket sales and strategies to ensure large turnouts in 2015 when the FIFA Women's World Cup will host four teams in Moncton.

"I think we're still learning, in coming out there with these world calibre matches. That's why we're bringing them out to learn a little bit. Learn about the science of selling tickets to whom, to what, to where. It could be different in Moncton than in Vancouver, probably different price points, different marketing schemes," he said.

"What we have is the luxury of the next two years to, I guess, touch and feel the community. But also learn to engage the communities so that they are supporting all the matches that we will be bringing to them."

Turnout could decide future games

However, Montopoli said a good turnout on Wednesday will help Moncton compete for the under-20 women's soccer championship a year earlier.

"We have not announced the official host cities for 2014 and we'll be doing that later in the year, as we get through some aspects of the business side," he said.

Montopoli said only four cities in Canada will get to host those games.

When the Women’s World Cup comes to Canada in 2015, there will be six host cities: Moncton, Montreal Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

There were some questions raised after the 2011 Canadian Football League game in Moncton when the stadium did not sell out.

Moncton sold 20,153 tickets to the game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Calgary Stampeders. But the game was not completely sold out.

By comparison, the previous year's game was sold out.

The CFL confirmed in February that it would not play a regular season game in Moncton in 2012. Instead, the league will focus its resources on promoting the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup.