Chukchansi Park is preparing for the largest crowd in stadium history Friday.
That’s when Mexican league rivals Chivas de Guadalajara and Club Atlas will clash in a 7:30 p.m. exhibition.
Only 800 of 16,000 seats remained as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to promoter Fred Godinez of Latin Entertainment.
Once that number drops to 300, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 standing-room tickets will be made available.
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“The anticipation for this match dwarfs anything at all,” Godinez said. “This will blow (the old record) out of the water.”
In 2012, Club America drew a record 16,125 fans for a friendly against Chiapas FC. But this is the first time in more than a decade that Club Atlas and Chivas have clashed in Fresno. They played in front of about 10,000 at Bulldog Stadium in 2002.
And unlike previous Liga MX friendlies put on by Latin Entertainment (this is the eighth at Chukchansi Park), where field-level VIP seating consisted of three rows of surface-level chairs, the company has brought in bleacher seating for VIPs for the Fresno edition of the Clásico Tapatío.
The bleachers are 12 rows deep and can hold 1,500 fans. Along with the standing-room only tickets, it could push the crowd to more than 17,000.
Many of those coming are from out of town.
A Los Angeles-based Chivas fan club bought 380 tickets and a Club Atlas supporters group out of Las Vegas purchased 270. But there is an even larger draw south of the border, where more than 2,000 tickets were purchased online from the city of Guadalajara, the home of both clubs.
“We have never sold that many tickets in Mexico,” Godinez said. “We’ve got lots of people coming from everywhere for this Clásico.”
Because of the larger crowd and the sometimes heated nature of the rivalry, security will be increased.
In that May playoff match, Chivas stunned Atlas in a Liga MX quarterfinal. A 4-1 win in the second leg, after a 0-0 draw in leg 1, included a second-half that saw Atlas fans fighting and running onto the field, causing a 15-minute delay.
Many of the same players will play Friday, with both clubs fielding their first teams as they prepare for the latest Liga MX season, which opens July 25.
Popular Chivas players such as Marco Fabián, Omar Bravo and Carlos Salcido and manager José Manuel “Chepo” De La Torre will be in Fresno.
Chivas tied Club Leon 2-2 in an exhibition before a soldout crowd Tuesday at Sacramento’s Raley Field. On Wednesday, Club Atlas played Sacramento Republic FC in a friendly at Bonney Field.
Fresno’s Clásico Tapatío
CHIVAS de GUADALAJARA vs. ATLAS FC
- Friday: 7:30 p.m. at Chukchansi Park
- Tickets: $26-76 at the Chukchansi Park Box Office or Don Roberto Jewelers
- The skinny: Largest crowd in Chukchansi Park history (upward of 17,000) is expected. Latest match in often-heated rivalry came last month in Liga MX quarterfinal, with Chivas winning 4-1 on aggregate. Both clubs are expected to field their first-team rosters, with a few committed to the Pan-American Games.