This is Giants Stadium. My guess is the Gold Cup Final will be played here in 2009
This is only a guess as to what CONCACAF officials are trying to do. I will break 12 teams up into 3 groups. Here are 3 groups for arguments sake to guess as to how the games will be played. Mexico, Costa Rica and the USA should anchor each group.
Group A......Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, Guadeloupe
Group B ......Costa Rica, Canada, Jamaica, Cuba
Group C ......USA, Nicaragua, Honduras, Grenada
I believe to get into all 13 venues in, all opening games will be a single game not a double header. By playing the 6 opening games at separate venues will create a huge buzz for the Gold Cup 2009 games. Also all teams will be traveling to their second venue so no one team get an advantage of resting while one travels.
Group A Mexico will play 1 game against someone (Guadeloupe) at Phoenix. Mexico is the only team that could come close to a sell out in Phoenix. Mexico and Guadeloupe then move to Houston for the 2 remaining double header games. Mexico has a huge fans base in Houston and Phoenix is not to far to travel. The other Group A game will be Carson or Oakland I will pick Carson 30k stadium since it is smaller. This game will feature the other 2 teams in Group A (Panama vs El Salvador). This would pit 2 Central American rivals against each other in a city (Carson-close to L.A) that has a large Latin American populous. Those 2 teams (Panama-El Salvador) will meet Mexico and Guadeloupe in Houston. The remaining games will be double headers in Houston’s Reliant stadium. CONCACAF officials will look at this group as their money maker with attendance. Mexico can carry any group by itself. By placing 2 Central American teams along with a quality Guadeloupe Group A should be the lead group with attendance.
Group B plays at Florida International University (FIU) Miami and Crew stadium for 2 opening games. FIU Stadium underwent an expansion beginning in March 2007, and completed in September 2008, for the 2008 college football season. Upon completion, seating capacity was increased to 20,000 seats, including 1,400 club seats. MLS is also looking at the possibility of bringing back a MLS franchise to this city. The Gold Cup would give MLS and SUM marketing a good insight as to the fan interest with a single game at FUI. Crew Stadium has the rowdiest fans bases in all of MLS. Weather they will watch other international matches that does not include USA is unknown. Since it good fan base, small intimate stadium and location (Columbus is in “Central” USA) it is a good pick for 1 game in the Gold Cup. Here is my scenario- Costa Rica plays Canada at Columbus while Jamaica faces off against Cuba in Miami. Jamaica and Cuba have a very good fan bases in Miami and FUI stadium only hold 20k. A sell out and the atmosphere should be great in Miami. Then all 4 teams will meet in Washington D.C for the remaining double header games.
Group C Has the host USA. Seattle has a new franchise in Seattle FC. Seattle does not have that big of a Latin American fans compared to other venues. Seattle is also on the West Coast. Sam’s Army will represent the yanks fans here. Seattle is a huge stadium and I do not see any other teams besides the US that will attract attendance. Since it is a 1 game deal the stadium should be well attended to see the host play. The other game will be Central American nation Nicaragua playing Honduras in Oakland in a single game. There are plenty of Latin Americans living in this area so the attendance should be very good. There is only 1 game here which will also help attendance. CONCACAF tries to make the Gold Cup a national event by moving the yanks from coast to coast. They did it in 2007 and I think they will do it again. I see all 4 teams will move to Massachusetts Gillette Stadium for remanding double headers. I place the yanks here instead of Wash D.C because yanks fans (Sam's Army followers) are more prevalent in Massachusetts that Latin American fans. Wash D.C also has a huge Latin American following for the home MLS team D.C United. I placed 2 Central American teams and one Caribbean team Grenada. Grenada will have S Joseph who plies his trade for the Revolution. S Joseph will have fans at Gillette watching him guide the Spice boys through this group.
Quarter Finals (Dallas-Philly)
Dallas and Philly will host quarterfinals. Dallas has a Dallas F.C and they also have many international fans in the area. Dallas will have Group A winner which will more than likely be Mexico anchoring Dallas while USA will probably play in Philly for the quarter final matches. Philly is a city that is getting a new MLS franchise so it is important to MLS to have a game here. Philly is also on the East Coast.
Semi Final -Chicago
Chicago had final in 2007 which Mexican fans packed the house. They get the one game semi finals and CONCACAF officials will hope Mexico is still in it. Chicago has the Fire and Chicago has a huge Mexican following. Chicago can not be felt out.
Gold Cup Final New York
New York will get the final. NY is the #1 media market in the USA. The city has more people (over 8 Million) than any of the Central American nations that are playing in this Gold Cup. The Red Bulls will get some publicity and the hope is Mexico make it to the finals again.
I could be wrong but there would be 6 opening games all at separate venues and that would be a great way to kick off the Gold Cup 2009. Double headers would ensure large crowns at the bigger stadiums. Any all the big market MLS franchises will get a little exposure with game played in their markets. Philly and Seattle included.