More than 60,000 fans are expected to turn out for Saturday's soccer match between the Montreal Impact and L.A. Galaxy, starring David Beckham.
The football celebrity's first game in Montreal has been nothing but a boost for the sport's profile in the city, according to Impact management.
"It's been a few weeks now, we see the [ticket] numbers going up faster than even our opening game," said Impact vice-president Richard Legendre.
An attendance record may even be set Saturday afternoon, and sporting-goods stores are reporting strong sale figures for Galaxy and Beckham gear.
It's all about the British soccer player's star power, said Evangelista Sports manager Carmela Sansalone.
"That's why my sisters are going [to the game]. I'm going more for the soccer itself. He played for Real Madrid, Milan — people want to go see a superstar like Beckham," he said.
Beckham and his team practised at the Olympic Stadium Friday afternoon and he met with journalists afterward, sporting a Galaxy tuque.
When asked what he thought of Montreal embracing soccer, given its longstanding hockey-town reputation, Beckham grinned.
"I think we're the hockey town at the moment," he said, referring to the L.A. Kings Stanley Cup bid. "I don't want to offend anyone."
Montreal police are stepping up security around the Olympic Stadium, and fans are being urged to take public transit to the east-end facilities.
Saturday's game starts at 4 p.m.
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