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Chicago Snubbed for World Cup Venue Site – 18 Cities Announced

2010 January 13
by Brian Quarstad

The game may be in us, but it’s certainly not in Chicago.

“We are going to announce 18 cities with an average capacity of 78,000 seats adjusted for World Cup,” said Sunil Gulati, president of US Soccer. Gulati was preparing the crowd who had gathered for the US World Cup Bid press conference for the announcement of 18 final cities that could host the World Cup should the US get the tournament for 2018 or 2022. “That would give us over 5 million available tickets,” continued Gulati. “That would be 33% bigger than we had in 1994 when there were fewer games. Far bigger than anyone else could hope to get. The magnitude is enormous.”

The magnitude is enormous and the US still holds the record for the most tickets sold for a World Cup at 3.6 million with an average attendance of 69,00 for the 1994 World Cup, the one and only time the US has hosted the event. The 94 World Cup also holds the record for the highest attended sporting event in the US.

The cities announced were: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C.

Obviously missing from the list was the third largest city in the US with a population of 2,853,114, Chicago, IL. A city who draws 32.8 million US visitors and approximately 1.15 million foreign visitors per year. The same Chicago that is the Midwest’s largest city and the home to US Soccer itself. Also the home to professional soccer teams, Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and the Women’s Professional Soccer leagues, Chicago Red Stars. A city with a deep history of soccer dating back to when European immigrants and more recently Latino immigrants settled into the city. A town that has hosted many US Men’s and Women’s National Team games. Yes, that same Chicago was left off the list.

Gulati tried to explain the snub by saying “Olympic fatigue” was part of the reason for Chicago’s exclusion. “The Park District had a tough time wrestling with FIFA requirements in short order after the IOC decision,” Gulati said. Meaning that after the cities failed Olympic bid this past fall, they were not able to gather the steam or the energy required to meet all the requirements of the US World Cup bid committee.

Kansas City, Missouri was on the list so the Midwest was not forgotten all together, but should the committee win the bid for the US, Chicago will sadly be missing as what could have been one of the best hosts to the World Cup games.

Please check out Tom Dunmore’s article at Pitch Invasion for more information concerning Chicago’s “Olympic fatigue”.

Click read more to see a chart of the cities and their stadiums.

USA Bid Final Cities for Inclusion in Bid Book to FIFA for 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup and Related Stadiums
(In alphabetical order)
Metro Market/City Stadium Estimated Capacity
for FIFA World Cup
Atlanta Georgia Dome 70,868
Baltimore M & T Bank Stadium 71,008
Boston Gillette Stadium 73,393
Dallas Cowboys Stadium
Cotton Bowl
Denver INVESCO Field 75,165
Houston Reliant Stadium 76,000
Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium 66,500
Kansas City Arrowhead Stadium 75,364
Los Angeles Rose Bowl
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Miami Land Shark Field 80,240
Nashville LP Field 75,000
New York/New Jersey New Meadowlands Stadium 84,046
Philadelphia Lincoln Financial Field 69,111
Phoenix/Glendale University of Phoenix Stadium 71,362
San Diego Qualcomm Stadium 67,700
Seattle Qwest Field
Husky Stadium
Tampa Raymond James Stadium 75,000
Washington, D.C. FedEx Field 89,690
6 Responses
  1. CoconutMonkey permalink
    January 14, 2010

    Olympic Fatigue? I’m not buying it. There must’ve been some serious behind the scenes drama between the Federation and the City for Chicago not to be on the list. Especially when Gulati could frackin walk there from his office!,+Chicago,+IL+60605-2902+(Soldier+Field)&daddr=1801+South+Prairie+Avenue,+Chicago,+IL+60616-1356+(U+S+Soccer+Federation)&hl=en&geocode=FXe0fgId4hbH-iEghoj7PaXB1ymnKWtpfCsOiDG2z6wb8Jz77g%3BFVSzfgIddgPH-iE0rjBaLrTgiimhziVRgCwOiDGNO10o04HqBA&mra=mr&dirflg=w&sll=41.858247,-87.615795&sspn=0.01432,0.030556&ie=UTF8&ll=41.860692,-87.61719&spn=0.007159,0.015278&t=h&z=16

    Furthermore, as a born and bred Chicagoan, this is some bull$h!t.

  2. January 14, 2010

    Please read the link for Pitch Invasion at the bottom of the article. I think Tom does a good job of explaining what happened. Some of the comments there are interesting as well.

  3. January 14, 2010

    It’s about venue size, clearly. USSF wants to blow away the world with average attendances of 70,000 plus. But the Chicago decision is regrettable. To exclude one of the best cities in the country and all of those great ethnic neighborhoods is just cruel.

  4. January 14, 2010

    While it’s a decent post Mike and I do agree Sunil seems to be very concerned with the great numbers the US can draw and therefore impress FIFA by making a lot of money for the organization, I don’t believe that its just number. Chicago is too good of a city not to include them just because the size was slightly smaller. Soldier Field has a capacity of 61,500. The next smallest stadium was Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium at 66,500. I do think that Sunil was telling the truth. As Pitch Invasion said, sources reported to him that Daily and Chicago sort of dropped the ball. I agree with Tom, I have no doubt that US Soccer would have loved to have Chicago be part of the event.

  5. leper permalink
    January 14, 2010

    I would read very little into this. I would imagine that the final list will vary dramatically from the current list, given that the tournament is either 8 or 12 years away. As has been pointed out elsewhere, there have been something like 8 new NFL size/style stadiums in the last 12 years. While that may not be the case in the next 12 years, chances are some fancy new place(s) will be built that will end up being included, and others that had been included will not.

    Despite what the headlines say, I would not take this to be a remotely final list, and would be very, very surprised if at least one and probably more stadiums and cities that aren’t on that list end up hosting games. Always assuming the US is awarded one of the 2 World Cups anyway….

  6. January 14, 2010

    I don’t disagree with that. I have thought it strange since the beginning that you can be naming stadiums for 2022 when there will be new state of the art stadiums in place that are not even built yet. And as you say, if we even get either one. Remember Chicago this summer? We don’t get the games just because we want the games.

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