NFL stadiums with World Cup in mind? Wise
October, 11, 2010
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
It's official. The group planning to build an NFL stadium in Industry is tweaking its design with an eye toward the World Cup, which the U.S. has bid to host in 2018 or 2022. It's the smart move.
Southern California has staged three World Cup finals (sellouts in the Rose Bowl for the 1994 tournament and the 1999 Women's World Cup, a near-capacity crowd for the non-U.S. 2003 WWC at Home Depot Center), and our only realistic chance for a fourth is to build a modern, world-class facility that might trump the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the likeliest venue should FIFA vote in December to accept the U.S. bid.
If we get a World Cup -- and the guess here is we will, for 2022 -- the Rose Bowl, storied though it might be, just won't cut it. Group-stage games, sure. A quarterfinal? Oh, yeah. A semifinal? Perhaps. But another final, to follow the Brazil/Italy classic/sleeper (depends on your outlook), requires something better.
The Rose Bowl is among the stadiums in the U.S. bid document, but there's plenty of time to finalize the venues for a World Cup that might be nearly a dozen years away.
FIFA requires a World Cup field be 75 yards wide, so Majestic Realty Co.'s adjustments are to ensure the facility meets soccer Switzerland-based governing body's specifications, and principal architect Dan Meis told the Associated Press that the plans can be further altered to meet any additional guidelines FIFA might set before the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.
"Because we’re building a new stadium, we could incorporate anything FIFA could want," Meis said.
Anchutz Entertainment Group, which manages L.A. Galaxy owner Philip Anschutz's investments, also has discussed building an NFL stadium, in or near downtown Los Angeles. If it happens, it's a certainty it will be built to meet FIFA's guidelines -- Anschutz and AEG President/CEO Tim Leiweke are on the U.S.'s bid committee, and there's no questioning their passion and longstanding involvement in the game.
But anyone building such a stadium anywhere in the U.S. needs to keep soccer in mind. The World Cup is big business, and so are international matches -- from U.S. qualifying matches to CONCACAF's Gold Cup to friendlies involving Mexico's national team -- and it makes no sense to shut youself off from such revenue streams.