For the first time in 4 years, our beloved Newcastle United is crossing the Atlantic for a trio of preseason matches. If you are fortunate enough to come out to at least one of these matches, you are in for a good time wherever you go. There are meet-ups and sections of seats available for Toon fans to gather, sing, and enjoy a few cold ones of course. Here is a rundown of place to buy tickets, enjoy a pint before and after the match, and potentially meet your favorite Newcastle players.
Milwaukee will be the host to the first of three matches on Newcastle's USA tour. The Toon will face off against Liga MX side Atlas Tuesday, July 14, at 8PM CDT, a 2AM start in the UK. Tickets are still available and you can get them at www.brewers.com/soccer.
From everyone I have spoken to about the three matches, Milwaukee is lining up to be the largest of the three Toon Army gatherings. I have spoken to fans from Dallas, Minnesota, St. Louis, and all over the midwest about coming in for this match. I even spoke to supporters from Toronto, and they will be making the trek from Canada to Milwaukee with a stop in Chicago. Toon Army Chicago will be sitting in section 109 down the first base line, and the rest of Toon Army America will be in sections 234-236.
There are more than likely going to be special access to Newcastle fans the day before the match, July 13. Earlier this week, I spoke to Lee Marshall, the Supporters' Liason and part of the PR team at Newcastle Untied. He says it is "highly likely" there will be an open training session and ample time for pictures and autographs after the session. There is also a possibility of a more formal meet-and-greet, but there are no confirmed plans. We will make those plans known as they become official.
Matchday festivities will be in abundance and all over Milwaukee. Toon Army MKE's regular stomping grounds The Highbury will be a big gathering place for Toon fans. If that is too crowded, give the Red Lion, Upper 90, or the Three Lions a shout. They all have teamed up with the Milwaukee Barons, a non-profit aimed at bringing a pro soccer team to Milwaukee, to host a huge tailgate. The tailgate will take place at the Sausage Haus, a meeting place in the Miller Park parking lot. Tickets are $20 for unlimited food and drink, and transportation between any of the pubs and Miller Park is an additional $15. Contact the pubs to book the bus, or you can purchase tailgate tickets here.
If you choose to drive yourself and want to tailgate, this is the place to do it. Wisconsin is the birthplace of tailgating. To do so here will feel like a Genesis moment for tailgaters.
Newcastle's next match will be at Bonney Field to take on the Sacramento Republic on Saturday, July 18. The match starts at 8PM PDT, 10PM Central, and 4AM back in the UK.
A lot of the west coast Newcastle fans--Toon Army Los Angeles, Toon Army San Francisco, and Toon Army Central Valley will all be there. As of the time I wrote this article, tickets were still available. You can purchase tickets for the NUFC fans' section here. The promo code is NUFC. There is most likely to be an open training session, similar to what is tentatively scheduled in Milwaukee.
There is also a pre-match bar arranged by the California Toon Army groups and the Club. The place is called The Mother Lode, located at 1424 Silica Ave. It is about 1.5mi away from the stadium. You can check out more information at the Facebook event. Our fearless leader and editor-in-chief at Coming Home Newcastle, Jim McMeachin, will be in attendance for this match. Say hi to him for me, and buy him a pint. He does a lot of great work here and deserves it.
Sadly, tailgating will not be allowed for this match in any form. The Sacramento's stadium, Bonney Field, is located on the California State Fairgrounds, and the California State Fair will be going on the day of the match.
If you are unable to make it to Sacramento, you are in luck! The Sacramento Republic live streams all their matches online via their YouTube channel, including this match. For once, you can be sure that you will have a high quality stream to watch it!
Wrapping up the USA tour is Newcastle's clash with the Portland Timbers B team. They have said that some of their senior players will feature, but that is left to be seen. The match is Tuesday, July 21 at 7:30 PDT, 9:30 Central, and 3:30AM back in the UK. You can order tickets for the match here. The promo code is MAGPIES. Sadly, there will not be an open training session due to their travel schedule.
Providence Park is located in the Southwest area of Portland. There are many shops, restaurants and bars within very easy walking distance of the stadium (and I am, by admission, an extraordinarily lazy man - JM) including the Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House. Some members of the Timbers Army will pregame there, the food is pretty decent and the beer is alright as well. Portland boasts the highest number of craft breweries of any city in the United States. Several of these are located within walking distance of Providence Park.
The pre-match location for this match will be the Cheerful Bullpen, located directly across the street from Providence Park. You can find all of the information about the meet-up here. A lot of fans I spoke with about the Sacramento match are also making their way to Portland, too. Our editor Jim will also be in attendance for this match, so make sure you say hello and offer him a pint.
If you are traveling to Portland for this match, check out this guide on how to get to the stadium. Providence Park is smack in the middle of a Portland neighborhood which is, for me, part of its charm. As a result, however, there is very little parking around the stadium. It is likely worth your time and effort to plan out light rail or bus transit to the area of the stadium and then allow time to walk from your preferred eating/drinking location. 15 minutes should be sufficient even if you're at some of the more outlying areas such as the Deschutes Pub while The Cheerful Bullpen is a minute's walk from the gates in clear foot-traffic conditions.