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Ticket crunch beginning for game at Wembley

NEW YORK (May 15, 2007) -- The grousing by some National Football League fans over the first regular-season game to be played overseas might not be limited to the western side of the Atlantic Ocean.

More than half a million ticket requests poured in soon after league commissioner Roger Goodell announced the New York Giants would play the Miami Dolphins at the new Wembley Stadium in London.

That outpouring of interest for the Oct. 28 contest means many die-hard fans -- not to mention the curious observers the game is intended to reach -- will be stuck watching on TV.

"This is a game for Europe and a game for hardcore fans of both teams," said Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK.

"The challenge we've got is to keep all the various stakeholders happy."

Ticket preference will go to season ticket holders and members of fan clubs, particularly in the United Kingdom. About 10,000 fans are expected to travel from the United States, only a fraction of the 90,000 capacity.

Tickets will go on sale in Europe on May 21 and within the next week in the United States, but fewer than half will be immediately available. The rest will go on sale once team and league officials weigh the amount of interest the game generates among American fans and those abroad.

Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch said the club has received about 3,500 requests.

For those lucky enough to get a ticket, the game won't be cheap. Prices range from about $90 to $180, using a pricing structure similar to this weekend's FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea.

"When I was in Miami, one of the British journalists came up to me in the dour, sour way that most of the journalists have in Britain," London Mayor Ken Livingstone said. "He said, 'Wouldn't it be humiliating if there are a bunch of empty seats?' And I said, 'I suspect that won't be the case.' "

The game, which will kick off at 6 p.m. London time -- 1 p.m. on the East Coast of the United States -- comes after Arizona beat San Francisco in Mexico City in 2005. The league hopes to play regular-season games again in Mexico, as well as Canada and other cities in Europe in an effort to expand the game globally.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2007, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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