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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight

Next Time, Try Counting Heads

A look at the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer Games

July 22, 1996|JULIE CART

When is a sellout an oversell? Apparently, when ACOG does the counting. Saturday night's opening match of the Olympic soccer tournament in Birmingham, Ala., featured the U.S. men against Argentina. The lure of that elicited a sellout at Legion Field, which was announced Friday as 81,067.

But Saturday night's attendance was announced as 83,110. It seemed physically impossible. Reporters repeatedly requested the turnstile count--the more traditional method of figuring attendance. This was not available, said ACOG. OK, ACOG was asked, what is the seating capacity of the stadium? The response: The official attendance is 83,110.

One sheepish press box attendant finally admitted that the number was arrived at by including all volunteers in the stadium, medical and security personnel and, gasp, the media.

Could it be that the number was expanded so that ACOG, and soccer, would be able to announce that the game drew the most fans ever to see a sporting event at Legion Field and would undoubtedly remain as the Games' single highest-attended event?

Hyperbole? Fibbing? ACOG? Nah!

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