Manchester City players, left, converge on Inter Milan's… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
How does hosting a World Cup sound to you, Baltimore?
Sound like a pretty good idea?
Bring a lot of visitors to the city? Generate a lot of ka-ching for hotels, bars and restaurants?
Then where were you Saturday night, when a crowd of just 36,569 showed up at M&T Bank Stadium for the big soccer friendly between Manchester City and Inter Milan?
Understand this isn't to say a crowd that size is anything to sneeze at.
Forty thousand is fine for, like, a big dog show.
Or an Orioles game.
Are you kidding? The Orioles would kill to see 36,569 show up at Camden Yards these days, as long as they weren't disgruntled fans storming the Warehouse in anger.
But it's not a great number for an international soccer event in a city bidding to host World Cup matches.
If you're out of the loop on that, the U.S. is trying to bring the World Cup back to this country in 2018 or 2022.
A decision on that will be announced in Switzerland on Dec. 2. And Baltimore is one of 18 host cities being considered, a list that will then be trimmed to 12.
That's why it's so important that we show the World Cup big shots we can draw big, boisterous soccer crowds in this town.
We sure did that last summer, when a sellout crowd of 72,000 watched the Chelsea-ACMilan match at the Bank.
But with the Ravens putting on these matches, team president Dick Cass attributed Saturday night's lower attendance figure to a number of factors.
"There are a lot of international soccer matches going on in the East Coast and nearby cities," he said. "Washington has two and has one more scheduled. Philadelphia has had two or three. New York has had two. And then New England, one at Fenway [Park] and another at Gillette [Stadium]. … We assume it's had some impact on our ticket sales."
Cass acknowledged that having a big international friendly is no longer a novelty in this town after the Man U-AC Milan match last year.
"It could also be people are a little tired of soccer because of the [recent] World Cup," he said.
And lastly, he said, Man City and Inter Milan don't have the same large following in the U.S. that Chelsea and AC Milan have.
But whether Baltimore gets to host the World Cup or not, it was great to see M&T Bank Stadium lit up like a purple jewel for something besides a Ravens game.
It was great to see people walking the streets in the black and blue colors of Inter Milan, and the blue and white of Man City.
And it was great to experience the energy and enthusiasm of a big-time soccer match in Baltimore again — even in what amounted to a glorified exhibition game.
Cass says the Bank will host a number of non-Ravens events next year, including the NCAA lacrosse championship and the Navy-Maryland football game Labor Day weekend.
Officials are trying to land a summer rock concert, too. And they're also trying to book — now this tells you we're really big-time — a monster truck show.
Cass said having as many events as possible at M&T Bank Stadium can only help Baltimore.
"I think it's very important for the city," he said. "It beings people into the city. It shows the city in its best light.
"It's still somewhat unique that your stadium is downtown, you literally come into the city for a weekend for an event, you park your car, you stay in a hotel, you go to the restaurants, you go to the bars, you walk to the stadium.
"And it creates the potential for a great atmosphere and a great event."
On the other hand, when it's anything but a Ravens game and fans drive to the stadium for a big event, bad things can happen in this town. Exhibit A would be the already-legendary traffic jam that crippled downtown before the Chelsea-AC Milan match last year. Traffic was at a standstill for hours. Many fans didn't reach the stadium until well after kickoff.
"What happens when we have a non-Ravens event … is that you have a lot of people coming to the stadium for the first time, and they don't know where to go," Cass said. "We don't have a lot of parking at the stadium. And even though we put up these traffic signs 10 miles out — 'Don't come into the parking lots unless you have a parking permit' — they still do it. So it's a very difficult situation."
It sure is. But there were no real traffic problems Saturday night. Not with only 36,569 in the house. Could be some big problems landing a World Cup, though.
We'll find out soon enough.
Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays from 4p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox1370AM Sports.
Text SPORTS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local sports text alerts