Spanish soccer club Real Madrid and its heartthrob winger Cristiano Ronaldo will play Italian powerhouse A.C. Milan in an exhibition match Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
“I didn’t know!” exclaimed Katarina Ruiz, 10, who lives near the Stadium. “I love soccer. I want to go!”
The clash of the European titans marks the second-ever soccer contest at the new Yankee Stadium and the return of soccer to a venue better known for baseball.
English club Chelsea and French club Paris Saint-Germain played to a 1-1 draw in front of 38,202 fans at the Stadium July 22, and the old Yankee Stadium hosted many international matches.
Real Madrid has won nine European club championships and A.C. Milan has won seven.
Both clubs have fans in New York, and local bar and restaurant owners are hoping they come out in droves Wednesday night, said Cary Goodman, executive director of the E. 161st St. Business Improvement District.
When the Yankees are in town, thirsty customers swarm the Stadium district. But when the Bronx Bombers are away, E. 161st St. and River Ave. fall quiet, he said.
Watering holes in the neighborhood will hand out souvenir soccer balls and show the match Wednesday, Goodman said.
“We want to turn our baseball bars into soccer bars for the night,” Goodman said, noting that many recent immigrants to the Bronx from West Africa and South America are soccer crazy.