This Thursday FC Dallas is hosting an important friendly against current European Champions Inter Milan. While this match is just a friendly as Inter prepares for their up coming season, the game will have some impact on FCD's future and the future of high profile games in this market.
The Dallas soccer market, particularly the "eurosnob" portion of it, has been asking for FCD to bring in top tier European teams for years. FC Dallas has always been content to play exhibitions against mid level Mexican teams like Atlas and Tecos, and sister clubs Tigres and CA Paranaense.
The dilemma for FCD comes with the cost. Bringing in a team like Inter costs close to $1 million for the appearance fee, someone like Manchester United is $1.5 million or more. A club like Atlas or San Luis could run you well under $50,000, a "big" Mexican team like Chivas or Club American you're looking at roughly $200,000. Those Mexican teams are a massive bargain relative to Man U or Inter. (Don't forget to add in all the travel expenses which the host club has to pay for their marquee visitors.)
So you can see the simple question, can FC Dallas fill the stands enough to make these European name games profitable?
You could make the case that the publicity is worth the cost. Kansas City Wizards sold a whole bunch of season tickets after they beat Manchester United, only KC can tell you if it was worth the cost. But the Hunt franchises aren't really run that way, the events need to pay for themselves in their mind. HSG isn't interested in blowing big wads of cash on the hope some marketing comes from the game.
Certainly Inter Milan is a huge, terrific club, but they don't have the drawing power of a Manchester United. Man U at $1.5 mil may make more sense than Inter at say $900k. Just look at the crowd Man U pulled in the All-Star game down in Houston.
As a consequence of the cost, this game against Inter on Thursday is then a big test. If Dallas area soccer fans pack out Pizza Hut Park, you can likley expect to see more of these kinds of games in the future. If, on the other hand, there are 10,000 in the stands and FCD takes a big loss on the bottom line, then this is the last game with a European "name" I think you will see for a long time at PHP.
FCD will go back to bringing in Mexican teams on the cheap that can at least bring in a few bodies from the Hispanic market. Maybe even just to play each other, leaving FCD out of it.