US Soccer: Plenty of time for new stadiums

NEW YORK (AP) " Los Angeles and San Francisco have plenty of time to build new stadiums or rehabilitate current venues ahead of the 2018 or 2022 World Cup in the views of the U.S. bidders.

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, speaking a day after he released a list of 70 stadiums that had been contacted, said the final list of cities probably wouldn't be chosen until three-to-five years ahead of the tournament.

"We no doubt will end up considering venues, stadiums, that don't exist today," Gulati said during a telephone conference call Thursday. "Not in the same way that some of the other countries bidding are, because they're talking about building venues for the World Cup, but given the turnover with top NFL stadiums and top university stadiums that are likely to be but between now and 2018 and 2022, we think that eminently possible."

South Africa needed to build or rebuild every stadium for next year's tournament, and Brazil is contemplating a massive construction project before hosting in 2014.

England and Spain are viewed as the favorites to host in 2018, with the United States more likely to stage its second World Cup in 2022.

FIFA's executive committee is to decide both hosts in December 2010.

"We're not expecting people to spend, you know, $500 million or $1 billion to build a stadium for four, five, six, seven games if it doesn't make economic sense in the long term in the United States, nor would we encourage that," Gulati said.

"We are not asking, as will be the case in many places around the world, for cities and states to spend millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure or venues. Given the nature of the United States, we're not going to need to build any hotels, any highways, any telecommunications centers, any training fields or any of those sorts of things to support a World Cup. Clearly, they'll be some modifications or upgrades will be needed in some venues, but that's eight, 10, 12 years from now."

Nine stadiums were used for the 1994 World Cup in the United States, and Los Angeles and San Francisco are the areas most in need of upgraded facilities.

Gulati hopes there could be more venues in the next U.S. World Cup, especially since the tournament expanded from 24 teams to 32 for 1998.

"The range I think people are talking about is nine to 12," Gulati said. "I think in a country like the United States, it's possible that that could be a little bit more. That would ultimately be FIFA's call. But a number of candidate cities we would put forward to FIFA would be greater than that. It would be a continuing process in conjunction with them."

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