Had Toronto FC pulled out an upset win last night, the right people were in the BMO Field crowd to declare a Spanish-Canadian war.
Among the celebrity guests in a record crowd of 22,089 were General Rick Hillier and Spanish ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Eudaldo Mirapeix, joined by basketball/soccer enthusiast Steve Nash and local hoopster Chris Bosh.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., reported 6,000 people on the waiting list for the game, after most of the season-ticket holders, even those dead set against playing friendlies, opted for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Real Madrid at a slight discount from the public price of $140 to $215.
The festive crowd obviously knew many of the Madrid chants, while entire rows of BMO looked to be flooded with the Guy Cabellero Fan Club from SCTV after a promotional giveaway of straw hats with a Madrid headband.
As the Spanish team departs this morning for Washington and a game against D.C. United tomorrow, a Toronto tourism survey projected that the game -- along with Thursday's open practice at $15 a pop -- had pumped $10 million into the local economy.
The $250,000 natural grass that Ole Ole Promotions paid for as per Madrid's demand, is going to get pulled up by tomorrow, but will be donated to three Toronto public schools, Keele, Morrish and Harbord Collegiate.
NOT A RECORD
Though the crowd was impressive, it wasn't a Toronto soccer record. Large turnouts for the Toronto Blizzard of the North American Soccer League at Exhibition Stadium included 42,035 to watch Juventus of Italy in 1983, a 1-0 win, and 35,656 when the same teams played to a 0-0 draw the year before.
Nottingham Forest drew 34,187 to beat the Blizzard 3-1 in 1980 and 30,121 saw Glasgow Celtic beat A.C. Milan at the Ex in 1968.