Copa America 2016 will be the biggest competition that the United States has hosted since the 1994 World Cup. The mega tournament will bring together the 10 South American countries with six teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, making for a true tournament of the Americas featuring the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and the U.S.
With such a big tournament, with big teams and big stars in a giant country like the U.S., which is stacked with great stadiums, competition to host matches was expected. Those expectations are being met too. 24 metropolitan areas are planning to submit bids to host and they cover just about every major city in the country.
Tournament organizers plan to have anywhere from eight to 13 stadiums host matches for the 16-team competition. The minimum capacity allowed to host is 50,000, although it would be a surprise if any stadium near that hosted. Most, if not all of the venues that host matches will likely seat at least 60,000 with the majority topping 70,000 and a few even over 80,000. The 24 cities that plan on submitting bids have until March 16 to officially submit their bids.
The 24 metropolitan areas that plan to bid are:
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- St. Louis
- Washington, D.C.
Every city listed has an NFL stadium that seats at least 60,000. The only exceptions are Orlando, which has the newly renovated and 70,000-seat Citrus Bowl, and Los Angeles, which has the 97,000-seat Memorial Coliseum and 90,000-seat Rose Bowl.
One thing that will be interesting to keep an eye on is how the tournament organizers feel about turf. 10 of the 24 cities planning on bidding feature primary stadiums that have an artificial surface, including major cities like New York, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle. Will they be okay playing on turf? Will they require grass be laid down over? Will some borderline cities be left out because they would rather play on permanent grass if given the choice?
The spread of hosts will also be interesting. Will they want to have Washington, D.C. and Baltimore host or is it going to be a battle between the two for one host spot? Will they consider all three Florida options hosting or will it be limited to one or two? Will they try to regionalize the entire tournament and create pods to limit travel? There are a lot of ways for the organizers to tackle this.
Copa America 2016 will be a massive tournament, and as big of a competition as the U.S. can possibly host outside of the World Cup. It will be incredible, and it will span the entire country. But where will they matches go? That is still to be determined, but now we know which 24 cities will be fighting for it.