YESTERDAY'S NEWS conference at Lincoln Financial Field mainly served to make an official announcement of something that was already well-known: Philadelphia will host the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on July 26, and the third-place game on July 25.
But the event still didn't lack for spectacle. Mayor Nutter joined CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and general secretary Enrique Sanz, Eagles president Don Smolenski, and Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz on stage. The seats in front of them were taken by national team coaches from across the region, including U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann and Mexico's Miguel Herrera. Soccer dignitaries including former FIFA World Player of the Year Luis Figo were in the crowd.
All parties involved had glowing praise for Philadelphia, its infrastructure and its sports culture.
"This is a big city with big heart, a big sports town, big history - why not Philadelphia?" Webb said. "You look at the accessibility to Philadelphia from New York, Washington, Baltimore and so forth. I think it's a great location."
It will be the first time ever that a Gold Cup title game played in the United States will take place in a market other than New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. Lincoln Financial Field will be the stage, with a prime time kickoff on Fox Sports 1 and Univision.
A day earlier, PPL Park will host the third-place game, restoring that contest to the competition for the first time since 2003.
"It's always great to beat New York at anything," said Sakiewicz, whose staff worked with the Eagles to bring Philadelphia another big event. "It's a testament to the collaboration between all the entities, and putting together a bid that CONCACAF couldn't refuse."
The Americans were handed a brutal group stage draw. Klinsmann's squad will face Panama, Haiti and the winner of a playoff between Honduras and French Guyana. Honduras will be the overwhelming favorite to win, and if they do, they'll bring thousands of fans with them.
The U.S. could see Canada or Jamaica, featuring Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, in the quarterfinals. Costa Rica, always a power, could await in the semis.