So the Redskins are getting agressive in their attempts to bring more big-time sporting events to FedEx Field. You can read my story about it here.
One of the things I was only able to touch on briefly was the push by the Redskins and the Greater Washington Sports Alliance to use FedEx Field as a venue for major soccer events. With a capacity of 91,000, it could become a go-to place for soccer’s top games, with the Redskins and the GWSA putting in bids for everything from the Olympic soccer tournament to the World Cup.
The Olympics dream died when Chicago finished fourth in the running for the 2016 Summer Games. But World Cup matches at FedEx Field remain a definite possibility.
The United States is bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. (FIFA awards them both at the same time and countries are awarded one or the other, or neither.) Soccer experts believe the U.S. has a good chance of landing the tournament because the 1994 World Cup here was a major success and remains the highest-attended in history.
Here’s who the U.S. is up against:
2018 and 2022
-Belgium and the Netherlands
-Portugal and Spain
Some stiff competition there, but the U.S. has one key edge over nearly every bid: the number of big venues. The 32 possible under consideration have an average capacity of 74,000, and only two have less than 60,000. There are eight stadiums under consideration that seat more than 80,000, which is more than all of the other bid cities combined.
FedEx Field, of course, has a capacity of more than 90,000, making it one of the largest in the country and well-suited to host some of the World Cup’s key games.
The Redskins and GWSA will find out in December of 2010 whether FedEx Field will be one of the 12 venues chosen to host World Cup games, though they won’t know until 2013 how many.
“We’re pretty sure we’re going to win,” GWSA President Bob Sweeney said.
In the meantime, the parties are working with D.C. United on a broad “soccer strategy” that includes trying to lure some other top soccer events. RFK Stadium will give FedEx Field some competition here, as it has remained a popular place for World Cup qualifiers and other events despite its advanced age. But for events that might draw more than 60,000, like United’s game against Real Madrid, FedEx Field is more attractive.
“We have nine or 13 years, depending on which year we’d win, and so we want to create a soccer-specific strategy for the region in which we are bidding on CONCACAF matches and other world matches,” Sweeney said. “And Those conversations have begun.”