The Etowah High School soccer booster club will be giving the public an opportunity to watch several games on Eagle Stadium’s large video board, which has been dubbed the “Eagletron.”
ABC and ESPN have the American broadcast rights for the World Cup, and Etowah athletic director Robert VanAlstyne wrote to the networks to get approval for the local screenings. The booster club was granted permission to show the games, provided they don’t charge admission.
Since there is no cost for admission, the booster club is hoping to generate revenue by opening the concession stand and bringing in several food vendors for each of the five scheduled games. Parents and soccer players will also be volunteering their time to the fundraising effort.
The first game set to be televised at Etowah will come Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., when host Brazil faces Mexico. On June 22, fans can watch the United States face Portugal at 5:30 p.m.
The booster club will also screen a July 9 semifinal (3:30 p.m.), as well as the July 12 third-place game (3:30 p.m.) and July 13 championship (2:30 p.m.).
The video board, in operation since last October, will allow for viewing even during the day.
Janice Detz, who coordinates sponsorship efforts for the Etowah soccer booster club, envisions children playing on the field and families watching a game or two together.
“The kids can play on the field. We will have food sponsors there,” she said. “We have some local sponsors signed up. Some won’t be there on every day, but we will also have concessions available. We hope to make our money through that, and having food sponsors there to help by donating products.”
Detz said she couldn’t take any credit for coming up with the idea of what is being called a World Cup Celebration. That credit goes to junior varsity boys coach Eric Burton.
Burton said the idea came to him at the end of the soccer season. He wanted to find a way to capitalize on the World Cup, which only takes place every four years.
With state-of-the-art equipment already in place at Etowah, he thought it only natural to stream the live World Cup action from Brazil.
“Our sport doesn’t always get the acclaim that basketball and football do, but every four years, when this comes onto the stage, we take precedence for a little while,” Burton said. “I wanted to capitalize on peoples’ interest and pique it a little bit.”
Burton said the administration and booster club were quick to get on board. With the school’s installation of the video board last fall, each sport that makes use of the stadium — football, soccer and lacrosse — committed to paying a portion of the cost of the screen and its installation.
For the soccer program, that amounts to about $10,000 a year.
“It uses a good bit of technology, but it was stuff we already had in place from the football season,” Burton said. “This wouldn’t be possibly if they hadn’t pushed to get that board that is of the utmost high quality. This was one way that we thought we could fund-raise to pay for our portion of the board and kind of let the board pay for itself. A lot of the funds that we gather will really go toward paying off that board as much as we can.”
The booster club hasn’t done any advertising yet. Burton wants to make sure the test run planned for Saturday goes smoothly. If it does, the players will begin putting up flyers around town.
Burton says fans are welcome to bring chairs and blankets to sit out on the field or take seats in the stands. He joked that he might bring a kiddie pool, since the artificial turf would allow it to easily be drained afterward.
“There will be cooling stations set up for fans to get out of the sun and have a little shade,” Burton said, who expects the largest crowd for the championship game. “We want everyone to come out and have a good time.”