new frontiers (issue 7)

World Cup '94 - The Stadia

The 1994 World Cup will be held at 9 venues, thousands of miles apart. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Detroit's indoor Pontiac Silverdome. 26 venues were originally considered. By using only 9 grounds, the organisers hope to drastically reduce costs. At 3 of the grounds, games are currently played on artificial turf, the real thing will be in place for The World Cup. Artificial pitches, unavailability due to baseball and the narrowness of baseball pitches all limited the options available.

Games are spread across 4 time zones, jet lag will be a real problem as the tournament progresses and teams travel across the states for their games. Trips may involve a six hour plane journey. On arrival, they will have between 2 and 4 days to acclimatise in temperatures of 100 degrees before the next game. The closest venues are New York and Boston. 222 miles apart.

Philadelphia is a surprise omission from the 9. Soccer has regularly attracted 40,000 crowds, including a recent club tournament featuring Sheffield Wednesday. Availability problems were cited for the omission. Boston with its large immigrant communities, especially Irish, Italian and Polish, was an obvious choice. 51,000 saw Eire play the USA here in June 1991, the largest ever crowd for a home USA international, most supporting the Irish. The Foxboro stadium is the home of the New England Patriots. Chicago's Soldier Field stadium, home of the Chicago Bears has a long and illustrious sporting history. The city boasts large Polish, Italian and German groups. Los Angeles. The large Spanish and Mexican immigrant community will support soccer. Twice over 100,000 turned up to see soccer at the Rose Bowl stadium during the 1984 Olympics. It is the largest venue.

Dallas' Cotton Bowl will lay a real turf as part of an estimated $30 million renovation programme. Despite, a large hispanic population, Dallas has never taken to soccer. Some have claimed it was only selected as it is the home of American Airlines, a major World Cup sponsor. Detroit Lion's Pontiac Silverdome will be the first indoor stadium to be used. Turf will be transported across the states to allow the ground to stage 4 games. England lost 2-1 to Germany here in last summer's USA Cup in front of 62,000, a record for an international in the states.

New York. The 2 city stadiums (Shea and Yankee) were unavailable due to baseball. The World Cup organisers have been forced out of the city to the Giants and Jets stadium which is in New Jersey. It was formerly home to New York Cosmos, the club at the forefront of USA soccer in the 1970s. Washington's Robert F Kennedy stadium will be the smallest used. Not a hot bed of soccer, it was probably chosen as it the capital of the country.

Orlando, a 70,000 stadium was a surprise choice ahead of local rivals, including Miami and Tampa, neither of whom proved receptive to losing their baseball grounds for a 2 month spell. San Francisco's Stanford Palo Alto stadium (capacity 86,000) is ready already, it is a regular venue for international soccer.

All the stadia are modern and bland with not much diversity. I could never see Simon Inglis writing a tomr on these stadia.


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