More than 50,000 Guests Will Be in Chapel Hill on July 19, 2023


By Laurie Paolicelli

Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill.

Two European Football clubs with a rich history — Chelsea and Wrexham — will meet on Wednesday, July 19, in the first international soccer match in Kenan Stadium history and the first neutral-site meeting between the clubs.

We call it soccer, but in Britain, of course, it’s called football. A temporary grass field will be installed for the match.

Unified Events, organizers of the event, announced that the July 19 FC Series match was officially sold out after just four days of public on-sale. Kenan seats 51,000. With staff, managers, owners and team mates the area could be welcoming nearly 60,000 people to the mid-week game.

Part of the intrigue for this game, other than large followings in the United States, is the American ownership of both clubs. Owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds have revolutionized Wrexham. “Welcome to Wrexham”, an FX documentary series, is about their purchase of the team and its ups and downs as it borders on promotion to League Two for the first time in over a decade, a dream realized at the end of this season.

Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds own the Wrexham A.F.C. Getty Images Photo by Oli SCARFF.

Unified Events partners with teams and venues to host games in cities throughout the United States. Over the past decade, its management team has helped promote over 100 international soccer matches across North America and Europe.

“The excitement around this match has been incredible,” said Molly Pendleton, Head of Touring Business and Operations for Unified Events. “As a North Carolina native and Tar Heel grad, I cannot wait to see Kenan Stadium packed with Chelsea and Wrexham fans this July.”

Unified Events will donate a portion of every ticket sold to the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic at UNC Children’s Hospital. With the sellout crowd, that donation will exceed $150,000.

Wrex the Drago is the mascot of Wrexham AFC. Photo licensed by Shutterstock and contributed by Kieran McManus.

Wrexham was founded in 1864.The Red Dragons are one of the oldest football teams in the world.

“Our tour of the United States will be an exciting part of the summer’s build-up to the new season and something we will all be looking forward to in July,” Wrexham AFC manager Phil Parkinson said.

Todd Boehly is co-owner and chairman of Premier League football club Chelsea. Boehly is co-founder, chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling member of Eldridge Industries, a holding company headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. He is also the interim CEO of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

FEBRUARY 20, 2018: Chelsea fans with flags picture. Photo by Cosmin Iftode for Shutterstock.

Founded in 1905, Chelsea is London’s most central football club, based at the iconic 41,000-capacity Stamford Bridge stadium.

While in North Carolina, Chelsea and Wrexham will play in an open training event featuring both clubs before match day at WakeMed Soccer Park. Members of both teams will visit patients at the Hematology Center before the official game.

“Our experience with hosting large-scale athletic events in this community for so many years has us well-prepared for this unique and exciting opportunity, “ said Interim Town Manager Chris Blue. “We look forward to partnering with our UNC colleagues and the event promoters to ensure that every attendee has a great time in Chapel Hill.”

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017: N’Golo Kante pictured during the UEFA Champions League Group C game between Chelsea FC and Qarabag FK at Stamford Bridge. Photo by Cosmin Iftode for Shutterstock.

Laurie Paolicelli, Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau said the Visitors Bureau is working with the event organizers as well as local leaders to roll out the red carpet and add Chelsea and Wrexham cut-outs and posters in window fronts throughout Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Triangle United Soccer team members. “Our kids love to play soccer, and we love to watch school, club, college and professional soccer! It is such a special and unique experience to be able to take our son to watch a big European Football game right in our own backyard.” — Bruce Warrington.

The game will be played on Wednesday, July 19 at approximately 7:00 PM. Broadcast information and the official match start time will be announced closer to the date, although organizers say that the ESPN family of channels will carry the game.

Fans will be hoping for a dazzling and competitive display from two of the most talented and talked about teams in Great Britain. And that it’s happening here is testament once again to the national and international appeal of Chapel Hill and the Triangle.

Tickets may be available at Ticketmaster for the July 19 game at Kenan Stadium.

Chelsea and Wrexham will host an open training session at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., on the evening of Tuesday, July 18. Wrexham’s training session is tentatively scheduled for 5:00 PM ET, with Chelsea following at approximately 6:30 PM. Tickets to the Tuesday open training include both sessions and start at $15.

Fun Fact: “Sweet Caroline” has a long association with sport, particularly in the United States. In the UK, the song is popular at football clubs such as Chelsea, and will often be played over the stadium speaker after wins.

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