As everyone is well aware, Chicago’s hopes of landing the 2016 Summer Olympic Games came crashing back to Earth last week with a thud. You can place the blame wherever you please, many people are, but you can’t deny that it comes as a blow to our collective sporting ego. It’s at this time that we must accept the fact that Rio simply put forth a superior bid and redouble our efforts to land the World Cup — the world’s largest sporting event — in either 2018 or 2022.
In 1994 the United States, a nation which was still very much in it’s soccer infancy, hosted the most profitable and most attended World Cup of all-time, a pair of record which still stand in October 2009. In 1994 we lacked many adequate stadia to host the event and FIFA bent it’s rules to allow certain venues to host matches, this is a problem we no longer have to worry about, in fact, we have a plethora of world-class venues capable of hosting World Cup football, and with the boom in construction of soccer-specific stadia, many cities are blessed with superb training venues.
While the loss of a potential Olympics in Chicago comes as a blow, it’s not a complete loss. Hosting the Olympics is often a money-losing endeavor, while the 1994 World Cup proved to be the opposite and injected over $4 billion into the nation’s economy, including roughly $500 million in Greater L.A. — site of the final — alone, along with creating thousands of temporary jobs in the hospitality and service industries. With this in mind it should come as no surprise that twenty-seven cities (thirty-two stadiums) have come forth in declaring their interest to host matches should an American bid be successful. Among those cities are Charlotte, Jacksonville, and Nashville, cities that would’ve never dreamed of hosting matches in 1994 are hungry to be involved in a future bid, and indeed the stadiums in Charlotte and Nashville were built with that exact goal in mind.
So, while some of us may upset at Chicago’s loss, and some may be celebrating it, it’s time that band together as a nation and put together a national show we can be proud of, and that’s exactly what a successful World Cup bid would be.