Philadelphia to host 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup final
On a day when Philadelphia is at the center of the American soccer world, news breaks that our city will be back in a big-time spotlight this summer.
I've had it confirmed to me that Lincoln Financial Field has been selected as the host venue for the championship game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the signature tournament for North and Central American national teams.
Philadelphia beat out Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, Atlanta's Georgia Dome and most notably East Rutherford, N.J.'s MetLife Stadium in the bidding race.
The home of the NFL's New York Giants and Jets was the overwhelming favorite to host the title game when this year's slate of venues was originally announced last month. But according to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, officials in Philadelphia worked extremely hard to snatch the big game out of the New York market's grasp.
It will be the first time ever that a Gold Cup final has taken place in a U.S. market other than New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. All but two of the tournament's 12 title games since the first edition have taken in 1991 were played at Giants Stadium, MetLife Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the L.A. Coliseum and Soldier Field. And those two remaining finals took place at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca.
Speculation of the Linc's coup started flying late Wednesday night when a banner ad on CONCACAF's website stated that Philadelphia would host games on Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26 - which we already knew is the weekend of the championship game.
But since CONCACAF is... well... CONCACAF, there was also a fair amount of skepticism about whether that ad was accurate.
Although CONCACAF isn't ready to make the official announcement yet, that ad was accurate - and there's even more to it than just the title game, which will be played on the 26th. This year's Gold Cup will also feature a third place game, which will be played on the 25th at PPL Park.
Yes, you read that right. It's a safe bet that the game will be quite a hot ticket.
Of course, the biggest game of all will be at the Linc. If the United States wins the tournament, it will qualify directly for the 2017 Confederations Cup. If any other team wins, it will contest a one-game qualification playoff against the U.S.
I've also had it confirmed me that MetLife Stadium will host the semifinals, likely on Wednesday, July 22. Atlanta and Baltimore will host the quarterfinals on either July 18 or July 19. That will be confirmed at a later date.