Looks like a full house of cheering soccer fans, right?â†µâ†µ
Nope. It's giant sheets of vinyl with photos of fans stretched across 10,000 empty seats at an Italian soccer stadium, according to this Wall Street Journal article about Triestina, a team in the northern Italian city of Trieste.
Triestina has reasons for not being able to draw fans:â†µâ†µ
Triestina, which plays in Serie B, the second tier of Italian soccer, has some serious challenges when it comes to selling tickets. Trieste is in a geographic cul-de-sac, with the Adriatic Sea to the south and west, Slovenia to the east and a narrow strip of land connecting it to the rest of Italy. That means the city, despite a population of some 200,000, has virtually no surrounding population. "We're also the oldest city in Italy demographically, with an aging population and one of the lowest birth rates in the country," [the team owner] says.â†µâ†µâ†µ
â†µLegislation introduced over the past two years to curb hooliganism now mandates that fans must present identification when buying tickets and, in some cases, do so in advance. What's more, every Serie B game is broadcast on live TV, a fact that may also limit crowd sizes (Serie B attendance has fallen almost every year since 2002). On Saturday, Triestina drew just 4,546 fans in a stadium that holds a total of 32,454.
So they paid for their stadium to look better on TV, and may have saved money in the process. In some major league baseball parks (Oakland and Florida), tarps cover unsellable seats, but they don't have images of fans on them.â†µâ†µ
So could this work in Chicago? Could the Cubs and Sox make Wrigley and the Cell look better this way on TV?â†µâ†µ
Maybe, but virtual fans don't buy beer. That's where American teams make real money.