As you may have heard, FIFA is sending a delegation to to the United States next week to tour some of the U.S. World Cup bid sites. Although the delegation will not visit Philadelphia, a group representing Philadelphia will be meeting with the delegation at a reception in New York next Monday.
Here are the members of the Philadelphia group:
Richard Groff, U.S. Soccer Federation Board of Directors
Melanie Johnson, City Representative, City of Philadelphia
Larry Needle, Executive Director, Philadelphia Sports Congress
Bernie Prazenica, President and General Manager, WPVI-6
Nick Sakiewicz, Chief Executive Officer and Operating Partner, Philadelphia Union
Don Smolenski, Chief Financial Officer, Philadelphia Eagles
The reception will include representatives of all 18 cities currently in the bid package, and it will be the delegation's first event after arriving in the United States Monday evening. The delegation is led by Harold Mayne-Nicholls, head of the Chile Football Association, and Danny Jordaan, CEO of South Africa's World Cup organizing committee.
Mayne-Nicholls and U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who also chairs the USA Bid committee, will meet the media on Tuesday morning in New York. They will then tour the Javits Center, a proposed site for the Preliminary (i.e. qualifying) or Final (i.e. the tournament itself) Draw.
The group will then cross the Hudson river and visit Red Bull Arena, a proposed training site; and the New Meadowlands Stadium, which will be one of the match stadiums in the bid. The Meadowlands is one of the leading candidates to host the Final.
After that, the delegation will fly to Washington (no taking the train for this group), where they'll visit George Mason University, a proposed training site. Tuesday evening will feature a dinner with local soccer and political leaders, which could be an interesting scene since the District is right in the middle of a mayoral election.
The dinner will take place exactly a week before the Democratic primary, and D.C. is just as heavily Democratic as Philadelphia. I wonder what current mayor Adrian Fenty, who has been no friend of D.C. United's quest to build a soccer-specific stadium, will say to the FIFA delegation.
The FIFA delegation will start Wednesday by visiting the Washington Monument, which is a proposed Fan Fest site. Certainly, having huge viewing parties on the Mall would produce an electric atmosphere. It makes you wonder where Philadelphia's Fan Fest would be: on the Parkway in front of the Art Museum, perhaps? How about Independence Mall?
From downtown D.C., the delegation will head east to visit FedEx Field, one of the proposed bid stadiums. Then it's back to the airport for a quick trip to Miami, where the delegation will visit Sun Life Stadium and the Miami Beach Convention Center. The latter site is a proposed venue for the Final Draw.
At the end of Wednesday, the delegation will rack up some more frequent-flier miles with a trip to Dallas. On Thursday, they'll visit the Dallas Convention Center, a proposed FIFA Congress site, and Cowboys Stadium. Jerry Jones' palace in Arlington could host the tourmanent's opening match, and potentially the Final - though you would think New York makes the most sense for the latter game.
Then it's a flight to Houston to visit Reliant Stadium, which will surely see a lot of action because it's air-conditioned. That means it can host mid-afternoon games in the peak of summer, which will make European television stations very happy. The last stop will be the George R. Brown Convention Center, a proposed site of the International Broadcast Center, where Mayne-Nicholls and Gulati will hold another press conference.
It's a whirlwind trip, but that's the way this stuff always is. And you know they don't fly coach. The big questions will probably center around transportation issues, because the stadiums will surely speak for themselves.
If you want to learn more about the U.S. bid package, there's a summary of the Bid Book here. You might have heard some of this stuff already, but if not, here are a few interesting highlights:
- The average stadium capacity is 76,000. The largest stadium is 91,000-seat FedEx Field, and the smallest is 63,400-seat University of Phoenix Stadium.
- All 18 stadiums currently in the bid package are accessible by mass transit, at least to some degree. The final bid will have around 12 cities.
- In addition to the 18 host cities currently in the bid, the bid proposes a further 14 markets that could host Base Camps. I'm sure Chicago, which didn't survive the cut-down to 18 markets, appreciates the backhanded compliment.
- The bid book summary proposes Atlanta as the site of the International Broadcasting Center. The city is no stranger to the communications world as it's home to CNN. It's also somethin of a midpoint between the eastern seaboard and the range of venues across Texas and southern California.