(WFI) The summer of 2017 could have a momentous impact on the future of sports in the United States.
FIFA announced at a Friday meeting of its Executive Committee that it will determine a host for the 2026 World Cup in May of 2017.
Two months after that, the IOC will choose a site for the 2024 Summer Olympics from a field including at least Boston, Hamburg and Rome.
Olympic bid consultant George Hirthler, who was part of the campaign to land the last U.S. Summer Olympics for Atlanta, says the U.S. is up to the task of competing for both events.
“The U.S. could easily run two campaigns on parallel tracks for major events … without negatively impacting each other,” Hirthler tells INSIDER.
“In fact, the idea that the U.S. is interested in welcoming the world back to its shores in two mega-events two years apart could play very well internationally.”
The chance of winning both is far from assured. Paris is expected to give the 2024 Olympic field another heavy hitter, and polling numbers released this week show support for the Olympics in Boston is low.
The U.S. has not confirmed that it will bid for the FIFA World Cup. Colombia is expected to bid for 2026, as are fellow CONCACAF countries Mexico and Canada.
In addition to the growing number of U.S. television dollars flowing into the game through deals with Fox, NBC and ESPN, in 2026 it will have been 32 years since the country hosted in 1994. The tournament has not been played in North America since.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup remains the most attended in World Cup in history at more 68,000 fans per match. The 3.59 million fans that attended the U.S. World Cup is still a record despite the tournament having 12 more matches now than it did in 1994.
The high totals were due in part to the size of the venues, all of which were stadiums normally used for professional and collegiate American football games. A number of new venues have been built or renovated since 1994, and many believe a U.S. bid could be put together virtually overnight.
Since last hosting the World Cup, the U.S. has founded its own domestic league, Major League Soccer, which continues to flourish. It has 20 franchises with plans to add an Atlanta club and a second team in Los Angeles in 2017.
Some see the country as overdue for hosting the Summer Olympics again. 2024 would mark 28 years since the last Summer Olympics, Atlanta 1996. Salt Lake City was the last U.S. Olympic city, hosting the Winter Games in 2002.
The country has fallen short in bids for both events since then. New York and Chicago were unsuccessful in bidding for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and the U.S. finished second to Qatar in voting for the 2022 World Cup.
By INSIDER’s Nick Devlin
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