CHICAGO (Thursday, June 12, 2003) — U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia has announced the six stadiums that will host the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the United States this fall. The six venues include two soccer specific stadiums: Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, and the newly christened Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., just south of Los Angeles. Another brand new stadium, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia (scheduled to open this August), will bring the event to a city that hasn’t hosted an official U.S. National Team international match in 35 years. The remaining three venues include Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., outside Boston, and PGE Park, the recently renovated stadium in the heart of Portland, Ore.
"Our first task since accepting this challenge two weeks ago was to find the six venues that made the most sense, both geographically and functionally, to host matches in the Women’s World Cup," said Contiguglia. "With these six world class stadiums, we know we have done that."
Specific information regarding the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup schedule and the number of matches in each city, as well as the path of the U.S. Women’s National Team through each venue, will be announced in the near future. The announcement will be made once the proposed calendar of games is ratified by FIFA, however, the tournament dates are likely to be slated from Sept. 20 to Oct. 12, and the state-of-the-art Home Depot Center in Los Angeles will play host to the championship game.
Ticketing details will also be announced shortly and will include a private pre-sale for members of the U.S. Soccer community and registered fans at ussoccer.com.
Philadelphia’s procurement of Women’s World Cup games will mark the first-ever appearance of the U.S. Women’s National Team in the City of Brotherly Love, and is the first visit by any U.S. National Team to the city for a full international match in 35 years, dating all the way back to a match between the U.S. Men’s National Team and Israel on Sept. 25, 1968. The U.S. Men played English club team Sheffied Wednesday at Veteran's Stadium on Aug. 2, 1991. The U.S. Women have played in the state of Pennsylvania seven times previously, including once each in the northern Philadelphia suburbs of Ambler and Horsham (in 1997 and 1996, respectively).
While four of the markets revealed today hosted matches at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Portland’s PGE Park (then Civic Stadium) will become the only stadium in the world to host matches in consecutive FIFA World Cups. The U.S. Women played their 1999 send-off match in Portland, as well as the 2000 Nike U.S. Cup. The newly renovated stadium hosted the 2002 WUSA All-Star Game. PGE Park is currelntly home to the Portland Timbers of the United Soccer Leagues' A-League and was the site of a number of classic NASL matches in the 1970s.
Gillette Stadium opened in 2002 on the site of famed Foxboro Stadium, one of the most popular venues in U.S. Soccer history (hosting five women’s matches and 10 men’s games from 1991 to 2001). The original Foxboro Stadium hosted five games at the 1999 Women’s World Cup, and was also one of nine U.S. venues at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The venerable old stadium also hosted the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996 and the inaugural WUSA Founder’s Cup in 2001.
RFK Stadium has also been a popular venue for U.S. Soccer, hosting 21 U.S. National Team matches since 1977, including five women’s games in the last nine years. As the home of both the WUSA’s Washington Freedom and MLS’s D.C. United, RFK was a host venue at both the 1994 World Cup and the 1996 Olympic Soccer Tournament.
Columbus Crew Stadium and the Home Depot Center are the two most prestigious soccer-specific stadiums in the United States. Crew Stadium opened in 1999 as the first soccer specific stadium in MLS, and has hosted two men’s World Cup qualifiers and six overall national team matches in the last five years – including three WNT games. The Home Depot Center opened on June 7 to rave reviews across the nation, and is not only home to the Galaxy of MLS, but to the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, as well as the 2003 MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup championship.
"There were a number of important drivers in finalizing these six venues as hosts of the 2003 Women’s World Cup," said Contiguglia. "First, we thought it was very important to balance WUSA market representation with that of MLS and the soccer community as a whole. In that regard, recognizing soccer specific stadiums in Columbus and the Home Depot Center was also high on our priority list, and we believe showcasing our National Training Center in Carson, Calif., was also very, very important.
"There were also extremely important parameters to consider in terms of making sure we had a national imprint for the six venues, but we also had to consider kickoff times in the East, Midwest and West in regards to the final schedule and television. We also took into account the travel that would be required of teams from venue to venue, and we’ve greatly reduced that requirement in comparison to the 1999 event. The travel was an important element from a FIFA point-of-view and something we understand, and the same can be said for the marketing issues at each stadium. Numerous other factors were also in play, including everything from stadium date conflicts to field size to altitude in certain markets."
The 2003 Women’s World Cup, which is being presented by MasterCard, will mark the third time in 10 years that the U.S. Soccer Federation has hosted a FIFA World Cup. In 1994, the World Cup was introduced to the American public for the first time, resulting in the highest attended event in FIFA history, and in 1999 the groundbreaking Women’s World Cup was, by every measurable yardstick, the most successful women’s sporting event ever. In addition to MasterCard, the event is being supported by FIFA sponsors adidas, Avaya, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Telekom, Fly Emirates, Fujifilm, Hyundai, McDonald’s, Philips, Toshiba and Yahoo!.