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Storied Soccer Rivalry Coming To Busch Stadium

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis soccer fans rejoice - you'll get a chance to see a storied rivalry right here in the city.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that Manchester City and Chelsea of the English Premier League will play an exhibition match at Busch Stadium on May 23, with kick-off at 7:30 p.m. There will be a practice the day before open to those holding all-inclusive tickets.

The game will be played four days after the end of the English Premier League season, and Charlie Stillitano, the CEO of Relevent Sports, the management company bringing the game to Busch, says there will be plenty of bad blood left over.

"So if you think they're not going to play hard, you've got another thing coming to you," he said. "These guys will act as if this is the FA Cup final for them." That means full rosters from both teams will make the trip.

The game marks the first time Chelsea will appear in St. Louis. Manchester City was last here in 1955. It's also the first time that the current Busch Stadium will host a sport other than baseball. (It's been the site of several concerts.)

Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III says it'll be a good test.

"We’re excited about soccer because it’s a new thing for us," he said.  "We think that some more soccer, as well as perhaps some football, maybe even some hockey, and just explore what we can do with this facility."

The grounds crew will have about three days to convert the baseball diamond to a soccer pitch. That will involve digging up the pitcher’s mound and sodding part of the warning track. 

Credit (Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
The layout of the soccer pitch inside Busch Stadium.

Tickets go on sale April 2 at 10 a.m. through all the usual outlets.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.