The 2018 FIFA World Cup (it is trademarked) began yesterday in Russia. The host nation obliterated Saudi Arabia 5-0. The host nation has kicked off the World Cup every tournament since 2002, and while the groups for the World Cup are randomly drawn, the organizers always try to give the host nation an opponent perceived to be the weakest among the other three in Group A (the host nation is automatically drawn as position “A1”; this will be Qatar in 2022 and probably the United States in 2026).
Kansas City’s powerful sports talk radio station, WHB (810 AM), talked about the World Cup and association football quite a bit yesterday. The big news locally was Kansas City is one of 17 cities across America which are still in the running to host World Cup matches in 2026 when the event comes to North America. The U.S. will host 60 of the 80 matches, including all matches beginning with the quarterfinals. Canada will host 10 matches in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, and Mexico will host 10 in Mexico City and two other locales.
If it were up to me, all American sites would be in northern climates and/or have a roof (retractable or fixed).
The Cardinals’ stadium in Arizona, the Cowboys’ stadium in north Texas and the Texans’ stadium in Houston would all be easy picks, since not only do those stadiums have a retractable roof, but all can easily accommodate a full-sized FIFA field, which is 105 meters long by 68 meters wide (approximately 115 by 75 for those who hate the metric system).
Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium cannot fit the 105×68 field. It would have to cut some seating in the end zones to make it work. It isn’t a bad idea anyway, since Arrowhead’s seating capacity of 79,000, give or take a few hundred, is too much for a market of its size. Arrowhead would be just fine in the 65,000-70,000 range.
However, I do not think Kansas City is an appropriate choice. Go outside today and see why. As Kool and the Gang crooned in 1980, TOO HOT.
Back to my picks. I’ve already identified Arizona, north Texas and Houston.
New York City may be hot and humid in the summer, but it’s got to be better than Orlando or Miami. You can’t possibly leave off out one of the world’s ten largest cities, the world’s most diverse city, and the epicenter of media. MetLife Stadium, home of the Giants and Jets, is the obvious choice.
Los Angeles also has to be in the equation. In fact, three stadiums in the area could be used: Rose Bowl (Pasadena), Coliseum (south central Los Angeles) and the new stadium in Inglewood being built for the Rams and Chargers. I’ll go with the Rose Bowl and one of the other two sites.
Gillette Stadium, home of the Belichick/Brady evil empire in Massachusetts, is a fine choice.
Chicago has to be on the list. It was fantastic as a host in 1994 and it will be even better now that Soldier Field has been modernized.
Atlanta has proven it can fit the FIFA-sized field inside its Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has that retractable roof. You’re good.
So far, that brings my list to nine. Who would get the last bid?
If there is a good way to install grass indoors, then I would seriously consider New Orleans, Detroit and Minneapolis.
My native city would be my first choice among the three. Yes, there is a bit of homer in that choice, but also the Superdome in my humble opinion is a superior facility to Ford Field and US Bank Stadium, and there is so much for the international visitors to see and do in the Crescent City.
Indianapolis? I don’t know if it can fit the FIFA-sized field in Lucas Oil Stadium. If so, it is perfect since it is centrally located and excels at hosting sporting events on a large scale. Also, the retractable roof is a big plus in my book.
Denver? Great city but would some nations balk at playing at altitude (4,850 meters)? And wouldn’t the Rockies balk about the possibility of a three-week road trip during the middle of the MLB season?
As for the altitude argument, TOUGH. If you’re that worried, see if the University of Wyoming will let you train in Laramie, where it is 6,600 meters. South American countries have it worse when they have to play in Bolivia, where La Paz is above 10,000 meters, the highest capital city on earth.
Seattle? Isolated but a great association football city. I’d rank it above Minneapolis and Detroit, but behind Denver.
San Francisco (49ers stadium in Santa Clara)? Again, great cosmopolitan city. However, traffic between San Francisco and Santa Clara is a nightmare on a good day. On a bad day? Good luck.
Okay here’s my 10 in order of preference:
- Glendale, Ariz. (University of Phoenix Stadium)
- Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium)
- Houston (NRG Stadium)
- East Rutherford, N.J. (MetLife Stadium)
- Foxborough, Mass. (Gillette Stadium)
- Pasadena, Calif. (Rose Bowl)
- Los Angeles (Coliseum)
- Chicago (Soldier Field)
- Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
- New Orleans (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)
The next group in order of preference:
- Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium)
- Denver (Mile High)
- Seattle (CenturyLink Field)
- Detroit (Ford Field)
- Minneapolis (US Bank Stadium)
- Santa Clara (Levi’s Stadium)
Uruguay and Egypt are scoreless through 64 minutes. What’s wrong, Uruguay? That’s ridiculous.