Narrow dimensions prevent soccer exhibition at Camp Randall Stadium

There can be big money in hosting international soccer exhibitions at American sports stadiums, but for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Camp Randall Stadium doesn’t measure up.

In field size, anyway.

Camp Randall has an 80,000-plus seating capacity that might be attractive to a promoter looking for a location for one of the summertime games between popular European teams that are annually staged in the U.S.

But soccer’s rules on the minimum size of the field don’t give Camp Randall much of a chance at landing such an event.

Camp Randall can handle the 110- to 120-yard length of an international-level soccer field, but the 70- to 80-yard width would put the corners a few rows into the seating areas.

“In the last 10 years it might have come up once or twice,” said UW assistant athletic director for event operations Todd Nelson. “And each time when we start talking about field size, they’re like, oh, thanks for trying but…”

On Wednesday, Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium drew an announced crowd of 86,641 fans for a game between Spanish power Real Madrid and French champion Paris Saint-Germain, who are ramping up to the start of their regular seasons.

A temporary grass surface was installed over the artificial turf in Columbus, and the teams approved playing on a field that was only around 68 yards wide, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

An American football field is 120 yards long by 53 yards wide.

“It depends what type of game it is or what organization is putting it on,” Nelson said. “Some will say, forget it, you have to do the international-size field. And some will say, well, we can do a waiver and cut it down. Even if we cut it down, it doesn’t work out.”

The game in Columbus and others in the International Champions Cup are being promoted by New York-based Relevent Sports. Other U.S. locations for 2016 games include Autzen Stadium, home of the University of Oregon’s football team in Eugene, and Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

In 2014, the University of Michigan was paid $2.6 million for a 16-day lease of its stadium by Relevent, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. That game drew an announced 109,318, the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game in the U.S.

This year, Michigan is getting a $500,000 rental fee, according to the Ann Arbor News, plus a share of revenues. Oregon’s contract with Relevent had amounts redacted when released to the Register-Guard of Eugene.

In 2014 and 2015, Milwaukee’s Miller Park transformed from a baseball stadium into a soccer venue for exhibitions between English and Mexican teams. That field was only 66 yards wide, with sod covering portions of the baseball infield and the pitcher’s mound removed.

Camp Randall, meanwhile, hasn’t been a soccer venue since the Big Ten Conference ruled in 1984 that football fields couldn’t also have soccer lines. The Badgers had played on the narrow Astroturf field until the rule change forced them to move to Breese Stevens Field. – The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)