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Marlins Park to host inaugural soccer match

Venezuela and Nigeria will play an international friendly on Nov. 14

MIAMI -- The Marlins' season may be over in two days, but it won't be long after that before Marlins Park is buzzing with fans again.

Marlins Park will host its first soccer match on Nov. 14, when the venue will be the site of an international friendly between Venezuela and Nigeria in the first of what will be many non-baseball festivities at the new stadium. The announcement was made Tuesday morning by Sean Flynn, senior vice president of marketing and events at Marlins Park, and Luis Muchacho, director of Univa Sports, the company organizing the match.

"In our efforts to make this building a true community gathering place, we've always said that we're going to go be aggressive in finding events to host," Flynn said. "We looked at events and opportunities for non-baseball-specific events, and soccer kept rising and rising to the top."

The match will begin at 8:05 p.m. ET on Nov. 14, and tickets will go on sale online at at 10 a.m. on Monday and will range from $25 to $200.

Preparation for the showdown between Venezuela and Nigeria will begin next week, when Flynn said they will begin marking the field and making measurements, as well as covering the infield dirt. The pitch will be regulation size and run along the first-base line, with one goal located near the Marlins' dugout and the other in right field.

"We're excited," Flynn said. "We can't wait for the match. It will be the inaugural non-baseball event here at Marlins Park. Just like Opening Night was back in April, we're going to have an Opening Night for non-baseball events. We can't be more excited than we are right now."

November's friendly is the second soccer event that has been announced at Marlins Park, though it will be the first one played. In August, it was announced that the venue will host the Miami Soccer Challenge in January as part of a three-year partnership with Global Football Challenge. The teams for that match have yet to be announced, but it will feature prominent club teams from Europe and South or Central America.

Flynn said Marlins Park hopes to host two or three soccer matches before the Marlins open their 2013 campaign, and that he already has Feb. 6 as the target date for the next international friendly.

Along with the soccer matches, Flynn said the venue will continue to look for future events to host, and he hinted at the possibility of boxing matches coming to Marlins Park.

"We built this building not just as a baseball venue, but a community gathering spot -- kind of the hub of Miami, where world-class events would come on a regular basis," Flynn said. "I think this is the first step in that direction."

Tom Green is an associate reporter for
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