(Soccer America provides ongoing coverage of the 2018/2022 World Cup bid process.)
By Paul Kennedy, Editor in Chief
Most of the 11 bidders for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup will be happy to show FIFA in concrete or on paper the minimum of 12 stadiums seating 40,000 or more fans. The USA Bid Committee has set the minimum capacity at 50,000 seats and come up with 70 stadiums it has targeted in the initial step of outlining the bid process and criteria for venue selection for public officials and stadium operators.
FIFA will require at least one 80,000-seat stadium for the World Cup; the USA Bid Committee's initial list of stadiums includes 24 stadiums with a capacity of 80,000 or more, 13 with a capacity of 90,000 and more and four with a capacity of 100,000.
To be sure, many of these large stadiums are college football stadiums in towns that have little soccer tradition -- the World Cup in Lincoln, Neb.? -- but it should be remembered that the University of Georgia's Sanford Stadium in Athens was the site of the 1996 Olympic men's and women's soccer finals -- two of the most memorable soccer events ever held in the United States.
Such is the USA's depth on the stadium front that it could easily host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups without using any of the nine stadiums that hosted the 1994 World Cup.
Perhaps the only 1994 stadium that would be a good bet to make the 2018/2022 cut is Chicago's Soldier Field, and it has been completely renovated since then. (Gillette Stadium, another solid 2018/2022 candidate was built next to the Foxboro, Mass., stadium that was a 1994 venue.)
The stadium landscape has changed considerably since 1994. Of the 30 NFL stadiums on the USA Bid Committee list, 20 have been built since the '94 World Cup.
Every current NFL stadium except San Francisco's Monster Park are on the list.
Three stadiums have yet to open: NFL stadiums in New Jersey (to replace Giants Stadium) and outside Dallas and the University of Minnesota's football stadium.
In 1994, the USA used the Silverdome, the first domed stadium to host a World Cup game. The city of Pontiac, Mich., closed and sold the stadium last fall, but several other stadiums with domes or retractable roofs will be serious contenders for the 2018/2022 World Cup.
Playing games indoors in stadiums with domes or retractable roofs would alleviate the problem of playing games in the afternoon in hot weather.
The USA's stadium options are not without holes. There is no obvious choice in California from among the six stadiums that have been identified.
Each of the three stadiums in the Bay Area has issues and the NFL, for one, won't return to San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium in its current form for the Super Bowl.
That leaves the Coliseum and Rose Bowl -- two ancient stadiums -- on the list. The answer could be a yet-to-be-built stadium in the city of Industry 30 miles east of Los Angeles. Plans call for a 75,000-seat stadium to be build at a cost of $800 million.
To a lesser extent, there is no obvious favorite in the South, though there are no lack of candidates.
Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, host of the 2009 Super Bowl, is with a capacity of 65,657 the smallest of six Florida stadiums on the list.
OUR SHORT LIST-12 STADIUMS:
New York-Meadowlands Stadium
Philadelphia-Lincoln Financial Field
Tampa-Raymond James Stadium
Dallas-Dallas Cowboys New Stadium
Los Angeles-stadium TBD
c=college football stadium
*to open in 2009.
BID COMMITTEE'S 70 STADIUMS:
CITY (STADIUM) CAPACITY
1. University Park, Pa. (c-Beaver Stadium) 107,282
2. Ann Arbor, Mich. (c-University of Michigan Stadium) 106,201
3. Columbus, Ohio (c-Ohio Stadium) 102,329
4. Knoxville, Tenn. (c-Neyland Stadium) 102,037
5. Austin, Texas (c-Royal Texas Memorial Stadium) 94,113
6. Los Angeles, Calif. (c-Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum) 93,607
7. Athens, Ga. (c-Sanford Stadium) 92,746
8. Pasadena, Calif. (c-Rose Bowl) 92,542
9. Baton Rouge, La. (c-Tiger Stadium) 92,400
10. Dallas, Texas (Cotton Bowl) 92,200
11. Tuscaloosa, Ala. (c-Bryant-Denny Stadium) 92,138
12. Landover, Md. (NFL-FedEx Field) 91,704
13. Lincoln, Neb. (c-Memorial Stadium) 91,067
14. Gainesville, Fla. (c-Ben Hill Griffin Stadium) 88,548
15. Tallahassee, Fla. (c-Doak Campbell Stadium) 88,300
16. Auburn, Ala. (c-Jordan-Hare Stadium) 87,451
17. College Station, Texas (c-Kyle Field) 83,002
18. East Rutherford, N.J. (*NFL-Meadowlands Stadium) 82,500
19. Norman, Okla. (c-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium) 82,112
20. South Bend, Ind. (c-Notre Dame Stadium) 80,795
21. Madison, Wis. (c-Camp Randall Stadium) 80,321
22. Clemson, S.C. (c-Memorial Stadium) 80,301
23. Columbia, S.C. (c-Williams-Brice Stadium) 80,250
24. Dallas, Texas(*NFL-Dallas Cowboys New Stadium) 80,000
25. Kansas City, Mo. (NFL-Arrowhead Stadium) 79,409
26. Denver, Colo. (NFL-Invesco Field) 76,125
27. Fayetteville, Ark. (c-Reynolds Razorback Stadium) 76,000
28. Berkeley, Calif.(c-California Memorial Stadium) Berkeley, Calif. 75,662
29. Orchard Park, N.Y. (NFL-Ralph Wilson Stadium) 75,339
30. East Lansing, Mich. (c-Spartan Stadium) 75,025
31. Miami Gardens, Fla. (NFL-Dolphin Stadium) 74,916
32. Tempe, Ariz. (c-Sun Devil Stadium) 73,329
33. Charlotte, N.C. (NFL-Bank of America Stadium) 73,250
34. Cleveland, Ohio(NFL-Cleveland Browns Stadium) 73,200
35. Jacksonville, Fla. (NFL-Jacksonville Municipal Stadium) 73,000
36. Green Bay, Wis. (NFL-Lambeau Field) Green Bay, Wis. 72,515
37. Seattle, Wash. (c-Husky Stadium) Seattle, Wash. 72,500
38. New Orleans, La.(NFL-Superdome) 72,003
39. Birmingham, Ala.(c-Legion Field) Birmingham, Ala. 71,594
40. San Diego, Calif. (NFL-Qualcomm Stadium) 71,294
41. Atlanta, Ga. (NFL-Georgia Dome) 71,149
42. Iowa City, Iowa (c-Kinnick Stadium) 70,585
43. Orlando, Fla. (Florida Citrus Bowl) 70,188
44. Houston, Texas(c-Rice Stadium) 70,000
45. Houston, Texas (NFL-Reliant Stadium) 69,500
46. Baltimore, Md. (NFL-M&T Bank Stadium) 69,084
47. Philadelphia, Pa.(NFL-Lincoln Financial Field) 68,500
48. Columbia, Mo. (c-Faurot Field) 68,349
49. Foxborough, Mass. (NFL-Gillette Stadium) 68,000
49. Seattle, Wash. (NFL-Qwest Field) 68,000
51. Lexington, Ky. (c-Commonwealth Stadium) 67,606
52. Nashville, Tenn.(NFL-LP Field) 67,000
53. Blacksburg, Va.(c-Lane Stadium) 66,233
54. St. Louis, Mo.(NFL-Edward Jones Dome) 66,000
55. Tampa, Fla.(NFL-Raymond James Stadium) 65,657
56. Cincinnati, Ohio(NFL-Paul Brown Stadium) 65,600
57. Detroit, Mich.(NFL-Ford Field) 65,000
57. Provo, Utah (c-LaVell Edwards Stadium) 65,000
57. San Antonio, Texas(Alamodome) 65,000
60. Pittsburgh, Pa. (NFL-Heinz Field) 64,500
61. Minneapolis, Minn. (NFL-Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome) 64,035
62. Oakland, Calif.(NFL-Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum) 63,146
63. Chicago, Ill. (NFL-Soldier Field) 63,000
63. Indianapolis, Ind. (NFL-Lucas Oil Stadium) 63,000
63. Glendale, Ariz.(NFL-University of Phoenix Stadium) 63,000
66. Champaign, Ill. (c-Memorial Stadium) 62,872
67. New Haven, Conn.(c-Yale Bowl) 61,446
68. Washington, D.C.(RFK Memorial Stadium) 56,692
69. Minneapolis, Minn.(*c-TCF Bank Stadium) 50,300
70. Stanford, Calif. (c-Stanford Stadium) 50,000