International soccer comes to NC: Wrexham vs. Chelsea game expected to bring $1.1 million
About 50,000 visitors are expected to be in Chapel Hill and Carrboro Wednesday for the 2023 FC Series game at Kenan Stadium.
A soccer game between Chelsea FC and Wrexham AFC will be played in Chapel Hill next week, and an influx of 50,000 visitors has local businesses preparing for a level of tourism that is rare in the month of July.
The soccer clubs will play at UNC’s Kenan Stadium as part of the 2023 FC Series, an international soccer exhibition. It will also be the venue’s first international soccer competition.
“While the surge in vehicle traffic will certainly cause some delays, the substantial foot traffic presents a remarkable opportunity for our local businesses to showcase local products and services to a diverse audience,” said the Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro president and CEO Aaron Nelson, in an email to members.
Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau, said the event is also expected to bring $1.1 million into Orange County. This is an estimate of money spent on lodging, airfare, parking, transportation, tickets, and dining.
“Tickets sold out quickly, and hotels sold out quickly,” she said. “And there'll definitely be an economic infusion in Chapel Hill and Carrboro that we have not seen before in July.”
Paolicelli said visitors are expected to travel from all 50 states and internationally to watch the teams compete.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had an audience this large in Kenan (Stadium) in July, especially. And it’s not a Tar Heel event,” Paolicelli said.
Chelsea and Wrexham will face off on Wednesday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m.