Home Canadian Soccer Vancouver, Edmonton or Montreal? Who should get the WWC final in 2015?

Vancouver, Edmonton or Montreal? Who should get the WWC final in 2015?

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FIFA confirmed Canada’s unopposed bid to host the 2015 Women’s World Cup was successful on Thursday.

Now, the next part of the debate: Which cities will get the plum games — Canada’s home games, semifinals and final? FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association released the names of the seven “candidate” cities to host games. Toronto wasn’t on that list, as expected, because of the conflict between the WWC and the Pan Am Games.

The seven cities: Halifax, Moncton, Montreal Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

“Our multiculturalism our diversity will make it so each of the 24 teams will be welcomed with open arms and play in a full-to-the-brim stadium,” promised CSA president Dominic Maestracci to those attending the FIFA press conference in Zurich.

Of the seven cities, only three really have a realistic shot of getting the final: Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal.

Edmonton has Commonwealth Stadium, which can hold more than 50,000. And, Edmonton has the memory of the 2002 Women’s U-19 World Championship, where more than 47,000 came out to see the final between Canada and the United States. For junior women’s soccer, that number was unprecedented.

The case against? It’s not one of Canada’s big three cities. There aren’t a lot of direct flights to Edmonton. Many international fans would need to connect in Toronto, Vancouver or Chicago.

Rendering of the refurbished B.C. Place.
Vancouver will have a revamped B.C. Place; it’s an Olympic city. And, it has a strong history of supporting women’s soccer through the Whitecaps’ women’s program.

Case against? Not much, other than we haven’t actually seen the new stadium yet. Without the soccer draping, which is being used to shrink the stadium capacity for Whitecaps games, the stadium can hold close to 60,000. Really, once we see how the roof works, if everything is running smoothly, it’s a solid candidate.

Montreal is Canada’s most cosmopolitan city. It’s easy to get to and, like Vancouver, has an Olympic legacy.

Montreal Impact vs. Santos Laguna at the Olympic Stadium in 2009.

Case against? That Olympic legacy. Olympic Stadium, unlike B.C. Place, would need major work. Sure, it can hold 50,000, but it’s a concrete monstrosity that looks like something that was built in a Communist country back in the time when they were big on concrete monoliths. Want to find a stadium that will remind you of Olympic Stadium? Try Estadio Latinoamerico in Havana. The dark, concrete hallways… the similarities are uncanny. And, any move to subsidize a renovation of Olympic Stadium with tax dollars is politically dangerous — as it was enough of a sinkhole the first time around.

 

FIFA delegates will visit all of the “candidate” cities to look at the stadiums or the plans for stadiums. It’s hard to declare any leaders on day one, but it’s hard to imagine that the debate won’t focus on Vancouver.

And, as for Toronto, here’s the rub. Because Toronto is the media capital, what will be the media competition between the Pan Am Games and the WWC? Toronto has one competition, the rest of Canada has another. Will two networks or more be going head-to-head with coverage?

Canadian Football League fans will also see a shift. When a World Cup happens, FIFA takes over the stadium. There is no sharing. So, if WWC Canada goes on the same timeline as the 2011 tourney in Germany — late June to mid-July — the Edmonton Eskimos, B.C. Lions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and potential franchise in Ottawa would all need to play a bunch of road games to start the season. And, it’s not like the Toronto Argonauts would be thrilled about playing a series of home dates against the Pan Ams. A potential Hamilton site would also be taken by Pan Ams.

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