April 9, 2009
By Charles Cuttone
MORE THAN ENOUGH
Venues not an issue for World Cup Bid
Unlike other countries where governments will have to build stadiums in order to accommodate the World Cup, the United States has more than enough venues capable of hosting the games, according to US Soccer President Sunil Gulati. Indeed, the U.S. Bid Committee has sent out letters to some 70 stadiums in 50 municipalities across the country. Those venues include Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn.
While Gulati admits that some markets such as Los Angeles and New York, are virtually certain to be part of the eventual World Cup mix, he says that the Bid Committee which is preparing to go after either the 2018 or 2022 event, is looking at a broad mix of stadiums and localities, because “the more venues we are in, the better we can do the job of spreading the gospel of the sport.”
FIFA requires a minimum of 40,000 seats for early round games, with a minimum of 80,000 for the Opening Ceremony and the Final Game.
There are more than a dozen stadiums in the U.S. that meet the 80,000 seat criteria, including both of the ones in the LA market.
“We’re not asking municipalities to spend millions, tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Gulati of the search for venues and today’s economic climate. Indeed, the fact that the United States has so many venues which meet the criteria for hosting World Cup games, could be a clear plus for the bidding process, since virtually all of the other countries will have to build facilities.
Gulati did make it very clear that there could be stadiums that do not exist today that could be part of the World Cup which is at minimum nine years away. That obviously could include a new stadium in the Los Angeles market built for a National Football League stadium.
“It’s an impossible question to answer,” he said “Given the uncertainty of what venues will exist then.”
The 70 facilities contacted by the bid committee vary from new modern NFL stadiums to well known college stadiums, and includes at least two stadiums, the Dallas Cowboys new stadium and the Meadowlands stadium being built for the New York Giants and Jets that have not opened yet.
The list includes virtually every National Football League stadium, including Green Bay’s Lambeau Field as well as well known college facilities such as Notre Dame Stadium, the University of Pennsylvania’s Beaver Stadium and the University of Michigan Stadium.
Gulati pointed out that the NFL stadiums in all likelihood had more amenities than the college facilities, but that “the more venues we are in, the better we can do the job of spreading the gospel of the sport.”
Somewhere between 9 and 12 venues seems the optimum for the Word Cup, “But I think in a country like the U.S. it could be more,” said Gulati.
The U.S. Bid, which will be submitted next spring is likely to include 25-35 possible venues. That number will be pared down much later in the process, with cities selected as far as six years before the opening kickoff.