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World Cups and Olympics present historic opportunity for U.S.

three successive sporting events

The United States has the unseen opportunity to host three successive sporting events on the world’s stage.

The FIFA World Cup comes to the U.S. in 2026 through a shared host with Mexico and Canada. Then, two years later, Los Angeles hosts its third Summer Olympics. Hosting the World Cup and the Olympics in a two-year span is nothing new for the United States. After the 1994 World Cup, Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Games.

The U.S. is not the only country to do this. Brazil 2014 preceded the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. Plus, the 1972 Summer Games in Munich came before the 1974 World Cup, which West Germany hosted.

Yet, what sets the U.S. apart in 2026 to 2028 is the potential of adding a third major tournament.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup, the premier sporting event for women’s sports outside the Summer and Winter Olympics, is seeking its host in 2027. Despite the 2027 edition being just the tenth in the history of the competition, the U.S. hosted back-to-back tournaments in 1999 and 2003.

While nothing is official, U.S. Soccer previously expressed interest in hosting the tournament. An official bid is yet to be made, and it is possible that the U.S. eyes up 2031 as a year to host the competition. Even then, it is still in the realm of possibility that the U.S. hosts three successive sporting events that are the biggest in the world.

Here is what that would mean if the U.S. is able to secure all three tournaments.

The U.S. hosting three successive sporting events on the world stage

While the U.S. is quite familiar with hosting major sporting events, hosting this many in a short span of time could put a strain on the country.

However, the U.S. is perhaps the sports-centric nation in the world. Facilities and stadiums are no shortage. Plus, commuting between cities should be more than feasible.

Of course, the size of the U.S. makes that a little more tricky. For example, in the 1994 World Cup, South Korea started the group stage in Dallas against Spain. Then, six days later, South Korea was in Massachusetts to play Bolivia. Four days after that, the Koreans were back in Dallas against Germany.

Facilities

In 2014, Brazil built and renovated 12 stadiums. Brazil payed between $220 and $330 million to build some of the most lavish stadiums in the world. Just a handful of years removed from the tournament, these stadiums fell apart. Not literally, per se, but the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha made headlines for turning into a bus depot not even a year after the World Cup.

In the United States, the NFL’s and college football’s extensive use of major stadiums would lessen the spending required to update stadiums. There would need to be some updates, yes. For example, catering to modern needs at a place like FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., or making some NFL stadiums fit for soccer fields.

However, there are seldom times in the United States where these stadiums are not in use. The NFL season might lead to some hiccups in terms of ensuring that these stadiums are up to par, but FIFA will surely make sure that happens.

Thom Meredith, who worked as operations at different stadiums for the 1994 World Cup, 1996 Olympics and 1999 Women’s World Cup among other competitions, says FIFA requires stadiums to be dark for three months before the World Cup and one month afterwards.

In my experience,” Meredith said, “the only way the stadiums overcome that is for NFL owners to band together and tell FIFA executives ‘we are not doing that‘.”

The Summer Olympics in 2028 only take place in Los Angeles. Therefore, only the Rose Bowl, the LA Coliseum and SoFi Stadium would be in use for those games if required. The Rose Bowl, however, which saw Brandi Chastain score the game-winning penalty against China, would be a potential host for games in all three of the competitions because of its history.

Fatigue

The Rose Bowl has experience compensating for a number of games in a short amount of time. It embodies the popularity and size of Los Angeles. However, it could face fatigue, as could the fans in the United States.

Sports is a constant in the U.S., but putting three successive sporting events lasting a month in the same country could prove detrimental to the overall enjoyment. With a country going from the World Cup to the Olympics two years later, or vice versa, it is different. With the Olympics, one city basks in the glory of being the viewing point of the world for two weeks. Meanwhile, the World Cup’s expansive nature over a country, or three in the case of 2026, dips into cities for no more than five games.

Fatigue for fans dealing with massive influx of visitors from other countries could be a real concern for Americans.

Thom Meredith mentioned the fact that this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Some will feel obligated to go in order to not miss out on the festivities. Therefore, someone in Los Angeles will spend hundreds on tickets to the men’s World Cup, Women’s World Cup and Olympics all in a three-year span. Then, take into account other people from across the U.S., which must then spend money on airfare or other transportation to get to these major events.

Fatigue also exists with sponsors and TV broadcasters in charge of the event. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are major sponsors with FIFA and the Olympics. Companies shell out millions of dollars during the competitions. However, during the potential three successive sporting events, these sponsors hit largely the same audience.

The Money

Hosting three successive sporting events on the scale of the World Cup and Olympics means one thing, even if it is the same sponsors.

It’s pretty simple. It sounds crass, but it is part of it. Money. It is television, spectators. This is a big event country. People come here [to the U.S.], people spend their time here.

Money is at the forefront of why the U.S. would want to hose these events. Yes, it is a chance to show off the sporting prowess of the nation. However, due to the fact the this country is so easy to get to for so many people, the profits are considerable.

This is especially true given the fact that the infrastructure of the U.S. is among the best in the world. There are certainly instances of improvement required. Los Angeles is no exception. Well-documented instances of traffic around the city and a $14 billion upgrade to LAX are things for organizer to keep in mind.

Yet, the main flaw in the U.S. hosting the World Cup, Women’s World Cup and Olympics is the distance between cities. The U.S. does not have to spend billions on stadiums like Brazil, Russia, and Qatar. Undoubtedly, billions will be spent, such is the nature of hosting major tournaments.

Yet, there is no country better equipped to take on this potential challenge like the United States. Bidding for the 2027 Women’s World Cup does not have a start date yet. However, if the U.S. puts out a statement of intent, it could signal the chance of a massively busy three years Stateside.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Mercator

    April 9, 2022 at 10:04 am

    The US has ample facilities to host multiple tournaments in quick succession. California, Texas or Florida alone could easily host something like the World Cup. People always forget how absolutely loaded the US is – did you guys see the Super Bowl? This is a country that could sell out a 80k seat stadium with $5,000 and $10,000 tickets lol FIFA, IOC, etc are going to make a staggering amount of money.

    Given there is no need to spend money on stadiums, the US should focus on infrastructure for these tournaments. A train from the airport to city center should be a must. A train from city center to the stadium also is a must for places like Fedex field. People can fly between cities that’s not an issue – the issue is getting from the airport to your hotel to the stadium.

    I also heard that idiot Kroenke apparently didn’t built his new monstrosity to FIFA standards? How can you build a $5 billion stadium and its not fit for FIFA regulations? This is a city hosting World Cup and Olympics, and the stadium can’t fit a pitch?

  2. JP

    April 8, 2022 at 10:43 am

    There was no issue with ’94-’96 hosting WC and Olympics, plus women’s WC in ’99. This is a non issue, the infrastructure is already in place in terms of stadiums, country is big enough that the influx of visitors isn’t noticeable, especially since most locations are already tourist destinations and used to that in the summer.

    • dave

      April 8, 2022 at 11:30 am

      To add to @JP, prior to the pandemic, Las Vegas averaged ~1 million visitors per week, many arriving by air. A big soccer game at Allegiant would be like a Raiders game – high room prices with some crowding and traffic jams on and near the Strip. Las Vegas regularly hosts higher attendance events than a World Cup game (e.g., CES pre-pandemic was ~150k attendees, many international, for a week). Similar dynamic for many large US metro areas.

  3. jason

    April 8, 2022 at 10:38 am

    The women’s world cup is not a major event

  4. Rick

    April 8, 2022 at 8:38 am

    I assume that the US will be hosting most of the 2027 Gold Cup, as usual. Is that correct?

    • Christopher Harris

      April 8, 2022 at 9:00 am

      That’s a good point. No decision has been made by Concacaf yet, but it’s likely to be hosted by the United States once again.

    • jason

      April 8, 2022 at 10:45 am

      The Gold Cup is useless seriously. Especially with the FIFA Confederations Cup not existing and now the CONCACAF Nations League. We need a full Western Hemisphere Copa American more than ever now and it should take place at the exact same time as the Euro Championships. A combined Western Hemisphere Copa will match the Euros in prestige and attention for sure.

      • dave

        April 8, 2022 at 11:05 am

        I saw on Futbol Americas that there are preliminary discussions between confederations regarding a 2024 CONMEBOL-CONCACAF Copa America. Benefits are higher quality opponents for CONCACAF and more money for CONMEBOL. Interesting to keep an eye on.

        • jason

          April 8, 2022 at 11:26 am

          Thanks for the udpate Dave. That would great news. Imagine that in 2024 if you had the Euros and a full western hemisphere Copa going on at the same time. That will be almost as big as the World Cup.

          • Buckles

            April 8, 2022 at 7:58 pm

            Agree that would be great. And then the winners of the combined Copa America could play the Euro winner.

            • dave

              April 8, 2022 at 8:17 pm

              @Buckles, good idea that is in motion. Per UEFA website article dated April 4, 2022:
              .
              “CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez and UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin today opened a shared CONMEBOL/UEFA office in London, which will represent the sister confederations in common projects, including competitions, across various areas.”
              .
              “The first major sporting event organised jointly by the two confederations is the Finalissima: a match between the CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 champions Argentina and the UEFA EURO 2020 winners, Italy. This match will be played at Wembley stadium in London on 1 June 2022. Tickets for the game sold out in less than a week . . .”

        • Arsenal4904

          April 8, 2022 at 11:29 pm

          Reddit mentioned that the US could play in, and host, the 2024 Copa America.

          Imagine hosting the expanded North/South Copa America two years before the World Cup, and four years before the Olympics. And add in a potential Women’s World Cup staged in the US.

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