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Vancouver in line to host 2015 Women’s World Cup soccer final


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Vancouver in line to host 2015 women’s World Cup soccer final

Renovated BC Place Stadium’s FIFA-approved Polytan artificial turf may be an issue, as Canada wins hosting rights to global tournament

By Bruce Constantineau, Vancouver Sun March 3, 2011 3:56 PM

VANCOUVER — Vancouver has a chance to host the 2015 Women's World Cup final at BC Place Stadium.

The city could even hold the event's opening or closing ceremonies or be the site of the World Cup draw.

It's all possible now that FIFA has officially awarded the quadrennial event to Canada and Vancouver is one of seven “candidate bid cities.”

“This is awesome news,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in an interview. “It's another great opportunity for our city to host a big global sporting event that is rapidly growing in popularity.”

The City of Vancouver last month approved spending up to $400,000 over the next four years to support the 2015 World Cup and the 2014 Women's U-20 World Cup, which Canada will hold as a test event.

Other Canadian cities bidding to host 2015 World Cup games and events include Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Moncton.

Toronto withdrew from consideration because of its commitments to hosting the 2015 Pan American Games.

Canadian Soccer Association general secretary Peter Montopoli predicts the World Cup will boost women's soccer and the sport in general across Canada, much like the Canadian-hosted 2002 Women's U-19 World Championship and 2007 Men's U-20 World Cup did in the past.

“Like the nation-building that surrounded the 2010 Olympics, this has the potential to be that kind of nation-building competition that reaches everybody in the country from coast to coast,” he said in an interview from Zurich, where FIFA announced the winning Canadian bid. “Everybody will be able to touch and feel this event.”

FIFA rubber-stamped Canada's successful bid Thursday after Zimbabwe, the only other country vying for the event, withdrew earlier this week.

Seven countries were interested in bidding for the 2015 World Cup last year but Montopoli said several pulled out and bid for other FIFA events after seeing the strength of the Canadian bid. Canada bid for the 2011 Women's World Cup but lost to Germany.

Montopoli noted the number of registered female soccer players in Canada has doubled from about 200,000 to 400,000 since 2002 and expects more significant growth after four more years of “solid promotion” of the women's game throughout Canada.

FIFA wants at least six cities to host the World Cup and all seven Canadian candidate bid cities could be successful if they pass a FIFA inspection this fall.

Montopoli said decisions on which cities host which events will be made by the end of this year or early 2012.

The 2015 World Cup will be bigger than the event taking place in Germany this summer because the number of teams will grow from 16 to 24 and the number of games will rise from 32 to 52.

Montopoli said the CSA expects the 2014 and 2015 events will at least break even if they don't make money. The 2015 World Cup has a $40-million operating budget while the 2014 U-20 event is budgeted at between $15 million and $20 million.

The federal government will provide up to $15 million and Montopoli hopes the cities and provinces will collectively provide a similar amount. The remaining funding will come from sponsorships, ticket sales and a FIFA subsidy for the 2014 event.

Montopoli said the budget does not include about $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades being made to facilities to be used during the World Cup. That figure includes the $563-million BC Place Stadium renovation, a renovation at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and the cost of new stadiums in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax.

BC Place games will be played on FIFA-approved Polytan artificial turf but it's not clear if the sport's world governing body would want the showcase final match played on anything but natural grass.

“We'd love to host the final and we'll push hard to win that honour and I think we have a good shot with the new stadium,” Robertson said. “ … There have been examples of stadiums putting in temporary natural grass before and if that's what we need to do, hopefully PavCo can rise to that challenge.”

PavCo president Warren Buckley said it would be a major undertaking to put natural grass in BC Place, as the artificial turf could not be taken out.

“If we had to, obviously we would consider anything to get the final,” he said. “But FIFA has approved this [artificial] turf. That's why we're buying it.”

bconstantineau@vancouversun.com

On Twitter: Twitter.com/bconstantineau

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Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Vancouver+line+host+2015+Women+World+soccer+final/4379979/story.html#ixzz1FaLpCjwq

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