Forge FC’s “Soccer Unites Hamilton” initiative aims to set a new attendance record for a sporting event at Tim Hortons Field come April 27, as the Canadian Premier League kicks off with visiting York9 FC taking on its Ontario rivals in the first iteration of the ‘905 Derby.’
And Forge FC senior director of business operations Greg Dunnett tells CanPL.ca the response to the initiative has been “incredible” thus far.
“Soccer Unites Hamilton” is both a lottery to afford all fans access to the game for free on April 27, while also raising money for youth soccer in Hamilton. The lottery system allows fans who want to attend the historic occasion and help surpass the venue record of 23,218 to submit their names to win free admission to the match, while encouraging donations to help youth soccer clubs in the city.
Dunnett revealed that the first wave of lottery winners will be announced later this week.
He also credits the Hamilton community for coming together to help raise awareness for this bold initiative.
“It’s come from our co-founders, who spread the news to their friends and families, and from our business partners who have communicated this message to the youth soccer community,” Dunnett told CanPL.ca, when asked how the city has responded to the club’s plan. “A huge part of this initiative is to raise $50,000 for our youth soccer community and we feel confident that we will reach that. We’ve had an incredible response from our friends at the Barton St. Battalion, who are spreading the word, too.
“We’re happy with the response, and we feel comfortable that the lottery will allow as many people as possible to the venue who can make it,” Dunnett continued. “We’re going to set our goal toward breaking the attendance record at Tim Hortons Field.
“We’re not surprised by the response, though. We’ve sold out two Women’s national team games at Tim Hortons Field, and the one thing that we’ve been pleasantly surprised with is the interest from communities surrounding Hamilton – we’ve got clubs and fans from Kitchener-Waterloo, Niagara, St. Catherines, as far as Mississauga all interested in this. It’s expanded beyond our borders, despite it being ‘Soccer Unites Hamilton.’ It’s been incredible.”
Dunnett called for all visiting fans – yes, even those from York Region – to embrace the occasion and see what Tim Hortons Field is all about.
“Tim Hortons Field is the best outdoor sporting experience in Canada,” Dunnett said. “It’s going to be a great day. The entire facility will be open, so you’ll get to experience it in all its glory, too. We’ll be setting a precedent that will be tough to match for a long time on April 27 because we know our community, our fans, will be loud. So, we’ll show them that Tim Hortons Field is, and always will be, a true soccer venue.”
Oh, and one more thing.
“We’re going to show the York9 fans that, when we head to their house on May 25 and invade them, their place is going to be just as loud,” Dunnett concluded.