Let’s think happy thoughts

… like about hosting the World Cup!

Goff’s got the news on the cutdown to 45 possible venues to go on the 2018/2222 World Cup Bid. Let’s take a look at each.

Georgia Dome, Atlanta – This venue probably makes a lot of sense if they’re going to play in the interior South. We “invented” the grass on turf routine in 94, seems fitting we’d use it again for the second time around. All the other requirements like airports, hotels, etc are fine here.

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore – A truly wonderful stadium despite the purple seats in a great location with ample parking and mass transit access. One of my sleeper picks to get on the bid, only really hurt by proximity to DC and Philly.

Legion Field, Birmingham – The stadium is massive and does have some soccer history to it, but two things come to mind here. Will US Soccer want to bid with a venue with so much historical baggage like Alabama, and with so many other potential hot-weather stadiums having roofs (Dallas, Houston, Phoenix) hurt this outdoor venue’s chances?

Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
– An almost mortal lock to be on the bid despite the stadium’s legendary accessibility problems.

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte – A market where US Soccer might want to do some proselytizing, but like Legion Field, will Charlotte be hurt as a deep south venue with no roof? If you’re going to go to the traditional south, this is my no. 1 venue, over even Atlanta. That said, I can why Atlanta might get picked over them.

Soldier Field, Chicago
– Even more of a lock than Foxboro. By then, it might have just hosted the soccer at the 2016 Olympics too.

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati – Thank you for playing , here’s your copy of World Cup: The Home Game, now please go home, and try not to get shot.

Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland – Now this is an interesting possibility, especially if Detroit has been declared one of those Chernobyl-like no travel zones by then. If that is the case, then Cleveland looks like a good choice for the upper Midwest.

Ohio Stadium, Columbus – As an Ohio State alum there are about a million reasons why I’d love this, but about a million more why it’ll never happen. Here’s the biggest one. The field is way, way, way too narrow and the athletic department isn’t going to go tearing up field-level cash-cow seats anytime soon.

Cotton Bowl, Dallas – Let’s just call this the “Little Miss Sunshine” bid, pat it on the head, tell it to move along, and get to the reason that’s the case.

Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Tex. – One of the few stadiums in the US that stands up to the best of European stadiums in terms of architecture and just overall wow factor. Another mortal lock.

INVESCO Field, Denver – A great venue in a great location for many, many reasons, but I cannot see US Soccer or FIFA wanting a venue at altitude for a World Cup.

Ford Field, Detroit – Well, if we operate under the assumption that Detroit will still exist by the time the WC rolls around, Ford Field might not make a bad choice. An outside bet.

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich. – Taking off my Buckeye hat for a moment, this is still a laughable idea. Anyone who has ever planned a trip to a Michigan games knows there are barely enough hotel rooms for an average Big Ten game weekend, the one road to Michigan gets utterly jammed, and that cars are parked not in a lot, but on a golf course – a golf course with only one entrance.

Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark. – Unless Walmart, with its HQ nearby in Bentonville, becomes a FIFA sponsor, this venue doesn’t stand a chance. The stadium seems nice enough, but I can’t see FIFA going to a venue where the largest neighboring cities appear to be Little Rock, Tulsa, and Springfield, Mo.

Reliant Stadium, Houston – No question about here, this place is on the bid. Complete lock.

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis – Intriguing choice especially if they decide to go against Cleveland. Indy has a great track record hosting big events like the 500, USGP, and numerous final fours. I wouldn’t count this place out, especially if they decide not to award a venue to Cleveland.

Jacksonville Stadium, Jacksonville
– J’Ville did a legendarily bad job hosting a Super Bowl, it’s unlikely they’ll end up with a World Cup as a reward.

Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City – If the Hunt family wasn’t involved, I would say that KC and this venue is unlikely. With the Hunt’s long relation with the USSF, I wouldn’t count KC out.

Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn. – Great stadium, but if you’re going to go to Tennessee, why go here instead of the better appointed, if smaller, LP Field in Nashville.

Sports City USA, Las Vegas – I have no idea what this is. The web site associated with it has no info on it. Is this some new stadium development Vegas is working on?

L.A. Coliseum, Los Angeles – Both the LA venues, here and the Rose Bowl have age issues, and maybe by then they’ll be a NFL team and stadium in LA. If not, one of these two venues will get matches. I give the nod to the Rose Bowl based on location.

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. – See above.

Land Shark Stadium, Miami – By this point, the Marlins will be happily ensconced in their new baseball stadium next door and this opens this stadium up as a very likely venue. I’d be stunned if the Florida venue is anywhere other than Miami.

Metrodome, Minneapolis – Based on aesthetics, if you’re going to put a venue in Minnesota (and with Garrison Keillor not in the USSF it probably won’t happen), I would hope they’d rather go to TCF Bank Stadium, the new home of Gopher football. On the other hand, the dome is bigger.

TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis – See above.

LP Field, Nashville – I suspect that this venue will be fighting it out with Atlanta and Charlotte for two venues in the non-Florida south. Whether they make it or not, I am not sure.

Superdome, New Orleans – Boy, there are plenty of good reasons, and just as many bad reasons. It’s really hard to say especially as we have no idea what NO is going to be like.

New Meadowlands Stadium, New Jersey -Uh, yes. Big yes. 100% yes.

Citrus Bowl, Orlando – With Miami able to host now (unlike in 94, when the Marlins played there), I can’t see them going back to Orlando.

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia – A really great stadium in a great location. I find it hard to imagine a bid with them not on it. About the only negative to the place is that it might be too close to DC and NJ. I don’t think that should matter in this case.

Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz. – In the summer? In the daytime? Please…

U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. – Very, very likely to end up on the list. This is a very, very impressive facility.

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh – When you toss in Pittsburgh, this battle for Midwestern venues is shaping up to be one of the stiffest considering its up against Detroit, Cleveland, KC, and Indy. I would take Pittsburgh over Detroit in a second, considering how much nicer the city is and that the stadium is outdoors.

Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City – Boy, with that field and that altitude, and all those fans, I think SLC might be the most deserving area that will likely get left off.

Alamodome, San Antonio
– Loses points for being a dome, but probably doomed because it would be a third Texas venue, which seems a bit unlikely. Still, an outside bet.

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego – With the Padres moved out, I would add this place to my list of outside bets. I love SD. It’s my favorite city in the US, so I am a bit biased, though.

Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, Calif.
– With the 49ers still stuck in the planning phases over their new stadium, FIFA is stuck with either Palo Alto or Oakland for it’s NoCal venue. I suspect that Oakland’s baggage and Palo Alto’s Silicon Valley associations will push it over the top compared to Oakland.

Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Oakland – See above, plus Al Davis ruined this otherwise nice stadium when he closed off the bowl with seats and blocked the view of the nearby mountains.

Husky Stadium, Seattle
– Unlikely but only because of what’s coming next.

Qwest Field, Seattle – A truly great soccer venue in one of America’s most soccer crazed cities. Mortal lock.

Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis – It’s a dome, but it’s a dome in the city that, at least until Seattle rolled around, was more associated with soccer than any other. It opened too late for USA 94, I think this place might be a bit of an upset special to end up on the bid.

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
– Again, with Miami available this time around, it’s unlikely anyone else in Florida has much of a chance.

FedEx Field, Landover, Md. – Another mortal lock. Either here or at whatever new monstrosity Danny Snyder has built by then.

RFK Stadium, Washington – This stadium will not be standing by then.. and I am not talking about wrecking balls. It will literally have collapsed in on itself by then.

So, here is my prospective bid. I am going to go with 18 stadiums, more than South Africa and Germany, but less than Japan/Korea.

East Coast:

  1. Foxboro
  2. Giants Stadium
  3. Lincoln Financial
  4. FedEX

South:

  1. Miami
  2. Nashville
  3. Atlanta
  4. Dallas
  5. Houston

Far West:

  1. Stanford
  2. Rose Bowl
  3. Qwest Field
  4. U. of Phoenix
  5. Qualcomm

Midwest:

  1. Soldier Field
  2. Ford Field
  3. Edward Jones Dome
  4. Heinz Field
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21 thoughts on “Let’s think happy thoughts

  1. i like that selection, here are my picks:

    northeast:
    Boston
    New York
    Washington DC
    Philly
    Baltimore

    midwest:
    Indianapolis/Columbus
    Nashville
    Chicago
    Detroit
    St Louis

    west:
    Seattle
    San Jose/Oakland
    Los Angeles
    Salt Lake City/Colorado
    Phoenix

    south:
    Dallas
    Houston
    Orlando/Miami
    Charlotte
    Birmingham/Atlanta
    Atlanta

    there are a lot of those venues that could go either way, but i don’t think ussf would say no to salt lake city, maybe denver, but probably not how the fans in the city have reacted to mls and us soccer

  2. I think FIFA would make clear that they don’t want matches at altitude. That’s the only reason I don’t think they’d be selected.

  3. New Orleans all the way.
    We’ve got a giant f-off stadium, great gobs of hotel rooms, we host a much bigger party annually just before lent (you may have heard of it) annnnnnnd we need the money.
    By God do we need the money.

  4. Must have been the multiple entrances to the golf course that made the Rose Bowl palatable for 1994.

    (Which it actually wasn’t – daytime, July, Southern California – okay, it’s not Miami or Houston or Mexico City, but the Rose Bowl is the only venue to host two World Cup finals and not see a goal scored)

  5. TCF stadium in minneapolis is going to be the new football stadium for the UofM football team. i live about a mile away from it, and it is definately big enough. parking is pretty poor however, but there is a decent mass transit system and hotels shouldnt be a problem with both St Paul and Minneapolis both quite close. The stadium is scheduled to be open this fall i believe

  6. I can’t believe that the Cotton Bowl is still on the list. I mean, I’d rather go there than line Jerry Jones’ pockets over in Arlington, but even I would acknowledge that the place is old and dumpy. Maybe not as dumpy as it was before they completed the most recent renovations, but still old and dumpy.

  7. Hate to say that you’re right about Michigan Stadium. I much rather have in Ann Arbor than Detroit, it much nicer soccer friendly city, plus stadium. By then the renovations will be done too. But there’s only a golf course, small parking structures, college kids houses, or side streets to park and hang out.

  8. Another thing to consider will be where to put possible fan viewing sites in some of these cities for the fans not able to get into the matches. In warm cities like Glendale, AZ you would probably have to use an arena.

  9. hopefully there will be *something* else in Birmingham in time for hosting a World cup. Legion field is something of a crumbling old edifice.

    Atlanta seems the likeliest of the deep south venues.

  10. Tennessee:
    LP is too small (though USSoccer was praising the field as the best they’ve played on). USSoccer should go with Neyland. FIFA likes the big stadiums- $$$- and its better for the fans- more tickets available.

  11. Aaron did you have some kind of traumatic experience in Cincinnati? Your dis of Paul Brown wasn’t very insightful.

  12. I’m not sure what information gets out of Florida (and out to you) … but Miami is hardly a lock for any soccer – much less World Cup. They cannot give tickets away for free.

    MLS has left a footprint here … and it comes and goes with the dew on the grass in springtime. Most of it is in St. Pete / Tampa area where some MLS teams train for pre-season.

    Travel to Florida still goes through Orlando – although they have done little since 1994 to build the sport there. I said it then, and I’ll say it now – soccer stadiums need to be built for the World Cup. The legacy that was supposed to be left from 1994 exists in only 3 of the 9 venues (IMO – Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington. Orlando, Detroit – not at all – and San Francisco, Dallas, New York and Boston areas have failed in carrying the MLS excitement)

    If any place needed stadiums to be covered – its in Florida. If not fully domed than at least partially covered from full sunshine.

    Since MLS and US Soccer are sleeping .. ehem … working together on the bidding, I doubt Florida will much of a chance.

    But it is 15 or so years away and anything can happen. (It is the home of Disney where dreams can come true).

  13. Don’t count out Indy. We know how to roll out the red carpet for big sporting events. Plus, we have a walkable downtown with lots of things to do and tons of hotel space due to our convention business. The Luke would serve as a great venue, too, but they’d have to lay grass over the turf.

  14. I’d love for the Linc to be one of the venues and have some quality WC action in my “backyard”, so to speak. Only downside is the corners are chamfered which would put the flags somewhere in the first few rows. The Linc has hosted soccer games before … Barca/Man Utd, Celtic/Man Utd … and will be hosting quarterfinal matches of the Gold Cup this summer, but the field doesn’t meet the width requirements set forth by FIFA.

  15. I feel fairly sure we won’t be using 18 venues. J/K did what they did likely because of the politics of two rival countries joint-hosting. The 12 Germany used after that, or maybe a couple more, seems far more likely.

  16. But don’t you think we are a bit more likely to go higher on the number of stadiums because 1) we’re a big place, 2) so few of these stadiums will require much in the way of investments in improvements unlike most WC bids. All most of these stadiums have to do is re-line the fields, cover up the ads and they’re ready to go.

  17. Not that I think Legion Field would be a leading candidate but if Germany and South Africa can host successive World Cups I don’t think Alabama’s racial history baggage should be a major concern.

    As a bit of an aside I thought that both Pittsburgh’s and Cincy’s stadiums were renowned for poor turf issues. Obviously, there’s time to fix that type of thing but it would make me think that those two venues might get dropped from consideration early on.

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