FIFA's delegation was in the USA last week visiting venues in New York, DC, Texas and Florida in their short stay. They also visited training facilities, hotels, and some of the periphery sites in the few markets they could hit in such a short time. While Seattle was not one of the few cities chosen to get the official visit, due to time considerations, members of the Seattle delegation were in New York for the arrival of the delegation from FIFA. On Friday Ralph Morton, Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission, and I talked about why the USA and Seattle should win the rights to host one of the two World Cups currently up for bid (2018 and 2022).
One of the things that he made clear early was that at this point in the process, it is not about Seattle winning one of 12 slots to be a host venue, but that the USA win the rights for a tournament. His efforts, the efforts of Drew Carey (officially on bid committee) and the Seattle Sounders (who had another representative at the meetings) are completely focused on America hosting the World Cup.
"All 18 cities were represented at the meetings. Each presented a united front, and the United States did a great job presenting the overall bid in the 24 hours or so that we were in New York with FIFA."
"Step one was to get to be one of the 18 cities selected and we did that. Now it is all about the USA having the best bid possible and winning the rights to host a World Cup."
When asked about why Seattle has a strong chance to eventually be a city chosen to host he pointed out the strong board of directors and corporate support that the Seattle Sports Commission has. When you look at the corporations present you see power Fortune 500 companies like Boeing and Microsoft, media corporations both nationwide (Direct TV) and local (radio and TV), hotels, restaurants, the sports teams, and other cities in the Greater Puget Sound.
Seattle has hosted several events of national scope in the past. Most recently the successful US Senior Open, but also the Final Four and the 1990 Goodwill Games. In the past, Morton has served on boards and led efforts for several Super Bowls and Final Fours.
When asked what Seattle, the USA and he have learned from the Winter Olympics just up I-5 in Vancouver BC, and the just finished 2010 World Cup in South Africa and how those events could lead to a stronger bid here, his response was clear. Both of those events were about a vision of what could be. The United States can focus on a bid of what is. What it has is are current, modern, best-in-class stadiums. Where other bids will have drawings of future stadiums, the USA can show the stadiums right now. The hotels exist now.
A bid here can be like Atlanta, Georgia's and Vancouver, BC's Olympics and spur infrastructure growth (particularly around transportation) with a firm deadline. All the stadiums that are eventually chosen to host will get improvements as well. Vancouver's improved infrastructure and image even lead it to be rated as the greatest city in the world to live.
While the USA has a bid built on dreams backed with past history, so does the England bid with its two million plus online backers, and its history as the foundation of the beautiful game. That's probably why Morton responds to the simple question of "what can American fans of the game do?" as such:
"Signing the petition is probably the best thing that can be done. It is a real, tangible way that FIFA can look at support here in the USA for the bid."
That petition is at www.GoUSABid.com and you can follow the Seattle portion of the bid at www.GoSeattleBid.com or at the Seattle Sports Commission. Support the bid and process now, if you want a positive result for the USA on December 2nd when FIFA announces which nation will host the two World Cups up for bid.