Sport

Liverpool, Manchester United announce opponents in US tour

Thursday, February 20, 2014 | 8:34 PM    

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CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — Liverpool will play Manchester City, AC Milan and Olimpiakos during a preseason US exhibition tour later in the year, and Manchester United will face Inter Milan and Roma.

Liverpool opens against Olimpiakos on July 27 at Chicago's Soldier Field as part of Group B in the eight-club Guinness International Champions Cup, organisers said Thursday. The Reds face Manchester City at New York's Yankee Stadium on July 30 and AC Milan on August 2 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Manchester United plays Roma at Denver's Sports Authority Field on July 26, then meet Inter Milan on July 29 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

In other games in the tournament, AC Milan plays Olimpiakos at New York's Citi Field on July 24 and Manchester City faces Olimpiakos at Minneapolis' TCF Bank Stadium on August 2.

Other group Group A matches include Real Madrid-Inter at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on July 26; Real Madrid-Roma at Dallas' Cotton Bowl on July 29; and Inter-Roma at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field on Aug. 2. The site of the Manchester United-Real Madrid match on August 2 was not announced.

This will be the seventh US trip for Liverpool, which is owned by Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox.

"Touring from a business perspective and a commercial standpoint, it's incredibly important," Liverpool chief commercial officer Billy Hogan said during a news conference in Charlotte. "It's something we do to try to bring the club closer to our fan base. We have hundreds of millions of fans around the world from the US to Asia. ... Not everybody gets a chance to get to see where we play in Liverpool. It's a 3,800-mile flight. So we're excited to bring the first team out here."

Some stars may not be available for the matches, depending on when their national teams are eliminated from the World Cup.

The final will be August 4 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The match in Charlotte will be the first sporting event at Bank of America Stadium after it completes a US$112.5 million renovation. The city agreed to pay part of the renovation cost in exchange for the Panthers hosting five rent-free events annually over the next six years.

"Our ultimate goal with getting international soccer here was to secure an event that has a strong potential for significant economic impact," Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon said. "The teams announced here today can certainly help us achieve that."

Cannon said Liverpool's visit to Boston and Fenway Park in 2012 generated $9.4 million in visitor spending.

Cannon wants to attract more soccer games to Charlotte's stadium, which was completed in 1996 and was built with sightlines for football and soccer in mind.

"Bringing two high calibre teams here is something our soccer community will treasure and remember for the rest of their lives," Cannon said.

Liverpool, led by midfielder Steven Gerrard and forward Luis Suarez, has 18 English league championships — but none since 1990 — and five Champions League titles. AC Milan has won 18 Series A championships and seven Champions League titles.

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