World Cup Could Come to Houston

Bill Stamps reports on what it will take for the most watched sporting event in the world to come to Houston.


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(sound from the World Cup)

If you’ve walked into any sports bar lately or even a restaurant with a television, chances are you’ve seen World Cup Soccer on the screen. Interesting considering the United States is not a soccer country. This is football territory. American football that is. And here in Texas, you don’t even have ask what sport reigns supreme. One man told me he could care less about soccer.

“If they were paying me then I could watch soccer. I’m a basketball person.”

Joe McQueen feels nearly the same.

“I’m just a football freak. I gotta watch football. And it’s just a bunch of guys running back and forth, there’s no…I mean you gotta be in great shape, don’t get me wrong. But I like to see somebody hit somebody. I’m a football guy.”

This may be pigskin country, but there’s still a lot of soccer fans in Houston. The Houston’s local soccer team the Dynamo is growing in popularity. And whenever other countries play an exhibition match at Reliant Stadium, the games are almost always a sellout. So it should’t be that big of surprise that Houston is leading all U.S. cities in an online public contest for the right to host the games. David Tagliarino is with Reliant Park, where the games would be held.

“Houston, obviously because of the cultural diversity of our marketplace, but also the enthusiasm and passion for the sport of soccer here and the success with the international soccer matches as well as the success with the Houston Dynamo, I think speaks for itself. So again, I think we’ve done a lot of great things in the last three or four years and we’re hoping to continue that momentum.”

Houston’s Chris Simpson is one of those who would love to see the World Cup come to Houston.

“I think that the U.S. has become more fond of soccer these days and I think a lot of people would be really happy about it.”

(Sounds from the World Cup)

The World Cup isn’t like the Olympics where there’s a host city and all the games are played in or around that city. The World Cup committee picks a host country and the games are actually played in cities all over that country. Which makes Houston almost a sure thing to host a few games if — and that’s if — the United States is chosen.

“For you to be able to host the actual final World Cup game, your seating capacity has to be a minimum of 80-thousand seats. So Houston isn’t even trying to go after that because our venue would only end up holding 74-75-thousand for soccer, but what we’re hoping to do is we want to be a site for lets say the quarter final or semifinal games, as well as, host the International Broadcast Center.”

In September, the people who will make the final decision are coming to the U.S.. Their last stop will be in Houston. And then they’ll make their final decision in December…right in the heart of football season. American football.

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