I’ll have much more later on the final decisions, but the below map courtesy of US Soccer will tell you which cities have been selected.
Since yesterday’s announcement of the eighteen World Cup host cities that the US World Cup Bid Committee will submit to FIFA, much has been made of the omission of Chicago. The Midwestern city is after all the home to US Soccer, and the third largest metroplex in the country.
As detailed extensively by Tom Dunmore over at Pitch Invasion, Chicago’s political leadership did not make the most basic effort to secure hosting rights. The US Bid Committee and USSF had little choice but to turn down Chicago.
The standard for choosing venues while somewhat subjective, still requires compliance from local authorities and the support of local businesses: something Chicago completely failed to do. When you consider their were cities cut yesterday that had well organized bid committees (unlike Chicago) and had gained more GO USA BID petition signatures that Chicago, the committee absolutely did the right thing.
But to me the more shocking omission was the lack of a venue from the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1994, World Cup matches were hosted in Palo Alto’s Stanford Stadium, which has since been renovated and cannot be used for international soccer except in rare instances. The other two venues submitted are aging and less than ideal facilities.
The Bay Area’s omission is more damaging for the US bid than Chicago’s. While Chicago has long been the second leading economic engine in the country (behind New York), San Francisco is maybe the most famous US city besides New York to those from abroad, and the area is also the home to the new high tech economy that has shaped the last decade plus of world history.
The Bay Area is also one of the leading tourist destinations in the US, and has become one of the leading international economic juggernauts. Couple that with a nice climate in June/July, the area is always a natural venue for big events.
The most surprising selections from my vantage point were those of San Diego’s aging Qualcomm Stadium as a venue in the formal bid, as well as the selection of Indianapolis.
Earlier in the week on the site we did detail how successful Indianapolis was in gathering signatures for the GO USA BID. Still, it will be very easy for the cutdown from 18 to 12 should the US be awarded the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to include Midwest outliers Indianapolis and Kansas City. But then again, KC is not that far from Dallas, and Indy isn’t really that far from Nashville.
The bid committee had a difficult task, but made the most appropriate choices possible. While we lament the demise of Chicago and the Bay Area, it is important to recognize the contributions made in the winning bid cities. Those include contributions by fans, local professional clubs (both MLS & NASL), and the youth soccer community and of course the political/business leadership of each city. They ultimately all did something; Chicago could not do or perhaps was unwilling to do, so congratulations to them.