Archive for Thursday, June 15, 2006

Atmosphere, tickets lure pair to World Cup

June 15, 2006

Given that a World Cup soccer game typically lasts a little more than 90 minutes, and Nuremburg, Germany, is approximately 5,000 miles from Eudora, the simple math of Doug Henderson and his son Duncan's trip doesn't exactly make sense.

But it won't be about one moment, one game or one experience when the father-son duo heads to the World Cup, Doug said.

The De Soto father-son duo is planning for the trip to the World Cup to be the trip of a lifetime even though the pair only has tickets to one of the tournament's 64 games.

"I'm really not even looking forward to the game itself so much as much as just the atmosphere," Doug Henderson said.

First up is the actual game. World Cup tickets are notoriously impossible to snag -- the Cup is widely considered the world's most popular sporting event -- but the Hendersons managed to land a pair to the United States' final first-round game.

Entering a ticket lottery that rewarded just 300,000 of 7 million applicants, Henderson was selected and given the opportunity to buy tickets to the U.S. team's showdown with Ghana, set for 9 a.m. central time, June 22.

"I felt pretty lucky to get the tickets to the one match. I don't know if we would have gone or not without the tickets," Henderson said. "In retrospect, I'm looking so forward to it I'm not sure we'd have needed the match ticket."

The trip will by no means be defined by the outcome of the game, Henderson said. The pair will rent a car and travel south to Munich for the 32-team tournament's second round.

A crackdown on black-market scalpers will render nabbing tickets nearly impossible, but the trip to Munich will be about the atmosphere and the experience, he said. While tens of thousands should fill the World Cup stadiums, hundreds of thousands will gather outside the stadiums and in the host cities.

"The opening stage two game is in Munich, and we won't have tickets," he said, "but I was figuring we'd just go there for the party."

As for sightseeing, Henderson said it will be secondary, but no doubt a large part of the trip.

Neither of the Hendersons have traveled to Germany before, and castles and perhaps World War II landmarks could be on the to-see list.

"We had to get passports and I got shots and everything," he said. "It's mostly going to be soccer, but there's some medieval castles we'll check out. Our third hotel is within walking distance of a famous 1,000-year-old castle in Nuremburg, and my son wants to check out some World War II stuff.

"I don't know what all we'll do yet. We'll have a car, so we'll play it by ear."

The Hendersons won't be able to get a ticket even if the United States qualifies for the second round, but the team's first match -- a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic -- dealt a serious blow to that possibility. Even if the U.S. can manage to survive its final two games of the first round -- the team faces Italy on Saturday and then Ghana, with the Hendersons in attendance, on June 22 -- the tournament's favorite, Brazil, would likely await in the second round.

"I honestly expected the U.S. to be down a game or two," Henderson said. "We will be enjoying it win or lose. We're going for the ambiance."

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