It may cost up to HK$1,800 to see Argentina play in Hong Kong
Local fans may be forced to pay the most expensive prices yet to watch a foreign side when Lionel Messi's World Cup finalists play in October
Fans could face the highest ticket price ever - HK$1,800 - to watch World Cup finalists Argentina on October 14, but organisers are still confident of a sell-out to cover the extraordinary costs of hosting Lionel Messi & company.
"The final ticket price structure is not yet confirmed but we may need to set the highest ticket price at HK$1,800, which is going to be the most expensive ever for a match in Hong Kong," said a source close to the Hong Kong Football Association. "We need to cover the costs of bringing the South Americans as it is also the highest ever we have encountered [to bring a team]."
The cost is expected to be nearly HK$30 million.
When star-studded Real Madrid, headed by Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham, visited in 2003, the most expensive ticket was HK$1,600 but all tickets were sold.
HKFA chairman Brain Leung Hung-tak said they were still working out a price structure for the clash between Hong Kong and Argentina, to be announced next week. "The highest-priced tickets will have to be over HK$1,000 or we may face a big deficit," said Leung. "But it is worthwhile as Argentina are one of the best in the world with many big names on their roster.
"Their performance in the World Cup in Brazil was also exceptional. They have also guaranteed the strongest line-up as they play rivals Brazil in Beijing before coming to Hong Kong.
"Many people are willing to spend over a thousand dollars for attending a music concert and I am sure soccer fans are also willing to pay to watch many of the best players in the world."
While the match at Hong Kong Stadium will be an important build-up for Hong Kong's East Asia Championship qualifier in Taiwan the following month, it is also a big part of the association's 100th anniversary.
"This is an important year for the HKFA - it is something very special for an organisation to celebrate their centenary mark. The Argentina team have made several inquiries before but we have never agreed to them. This is different due to the big occasion," he said. The HKFA can sell only a maximum of 38,000 tickets because buffer areas are needed.
If the median ticket price is HK$1,000, organisers can make HK$38 million for a full house and, after off-setting the 20 per cent gate-receipt fee to the government for hiring the venue, will be able to break even. Any additional income such as event sponsorships and ground advertisements will become profit.
But even if there is a deficit, four directors - Leung, Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, Pui Kwan-kay and Ken Ng Kin - have agreed to make up any shortfall.