DALLAS -- The Guinness International Champions Cup tournament stopped in the DFW area Tuesday night, in front of 57,512 fans at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Big D was one of the tour’s 12 stops. The Cotton Bowl was once home to the Dallas Cowboys and annually hosts the Texas-OU game known as the Red River Rivalry, but it also has a soccer tradition having hosted six matches in the 1994 World Cup and was home field for the Dallas Tornado and Dallas Burn prior to their move up to Toyota Stadium and subsequent rebranding as FC Dallas.
The game at the Cotton Bowl featuring Real Madrid and AS Roma had a ton of buzz that begin last week when word got out that one of the biggest sports superstars in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo would be in Dallas for the game. Since the world player of the year has been hampered by a left-knee problem in recent months and struggled in the World Cup, it was expected by many that he would not be playing in Dallas, but his presence alone turned the 'friendly' into an event with the cheapest ticket being $50.
The excitement for the fans actually began the night before when shortly after 8 p.m., Real Madrid arrived at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas hotel in Uptown. Thousands of fans lined up 10-deep just to catch a glimpse of Ronaldo and his teammates as they got off the bus and entered the upscale hotel in a scene reminiscent of the Beatles back in the day.
The next afternoon was more of the same when the teams arrived at the Cotton Bowl prior to the game to a hoard of fans swarming in every direction and every one of them with a smart phone hoping to get a picture for their social media outlets. I even saw a tweet saying that this person had "breathed the same air as Ronaldo" so their life was complete.
As expected, Ronaldo was on the sideline and listed as an available substitute, but he did not play in the exhibition. That did not mean there was no action Tuesday evening, as the game was delayed for a few minutes when close to 20 fans took it upon themselves to rush out on the field -- or as it is properly termed -- "invaded the pitch." This took place in the 87th minute of the game, with Roma leading 1-0 on a goal by Francesco Totti. Security did the best they could to restore order as the fans took selfies with players and embarrassed Dallas on a worldwide stage, all but ensuring that another event of this magnitude will never return to the Cotton Bowl. The game resumed in the 90th minute and would end 1-0 in favor of Roma.
Of note, many local DFW fans are well aware that the Dallas Cowboys are the fifth most valuable sports franchise in the world at $2.3 billion according to Forbes. Two of the teams ahead of them, were both here in DFW while the Cowboys are training out in California. The New York Yankees, in town to take on the Texas Rangers, are fourth at $2.5 billion and Real Madrid is No. 1 at $3.44 billion.
Ironically, Real Madrid and the Yankees were both staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas hotel and since their security is apparently much better than that at the Cotton Bowl, one can only imagine how great the scene was inside the Rattlesnake Bar on Tuesday night when both teams returned from their respective games.
Next up in the International Champions Cup for Roma is a trip to Philadelphia to take on Inter while Real Madrid is heading to Michigan Stadium to take on Manchester United for what is expected to break a United States attendance record for soccer.
For further information on the International Champions Cup, visit here.
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