I was asked yesterday to write up the reasons why Dicks Sporting Goods Park -- or Sports Authority Field if we're feeling saucy, I guess -- should host the March 22nd match between the US Men's National Team and Costa Rica. Of course, I already did this a few weeks ago, but why not re-hash now that we know we're actually in the running for one?
For anyone who hasn't been paying attention, Colorado is one of the two (or three, depending who you ask) finalists for the USMNT match, and the other player is Salt Lake, who would host their game at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Grant Wahl also said that Kansas City was in contention for it, but Chris Bianchi disagreed later that night. For now, we'll assume it's between Denver and Salt Lake, and KC will probably get one of the other Hex matches available.)
So, why should DSGP host that Costa Rica game? Here's a bullet'd list of reasons:
- First and foremost, there's the geography of the situation. Part of the reason, at least so far as we've heard, that the United States wants that game at either Denver or Salt Lake is because the two stadiums are at high altitudes. Four days after that game, they'll head off to play Mexico at Estadio Azteca, where the Yanks rarely go in and win. For years, we've been saying that the team should train in Denver before those games to get used to the altitude involved. In a competition of 'who is higher', Denver wins over SLC. (You can insert your own marijuana pun here, if you would like.)
- The biggest argument against DSGP hosting seems to be that 'Colorado couldn't fill the stadium last time they got a shot'. That shot was November 19th, 2008 in a meaningless game against Guatemala. The stadium was half-full, the crowd never really got into it and it wasn't exactly the greatest game we've ever seen because the US already knew they were in.
That was five years ago. Since then, the Rapids fanbase and the overall footprint of soccer in Colorado has grown by leaps and bounds, to the point where the Rapids probably have five times the season ticket holders as they did back then and attendance that is up in the 15000's every game. For US soccer, we also showed our stuff when the US Women's team showed up for a friendly and garnered the largest crowd in DSGP history. (We also had 45,000 people for a game against Mexico one time, so it's not like we've never had a big crowd for a US game.)
- It's going to be in March, and it's going to be really cold and probably snowy. If that's not an advantage over a Costa Rica team that probably doesn't even know what snow is, I don't know what is.
- Colorado's soccer footprint, as I said earlier, is steadily growing every season. If the Rapids and the game of soccer are to grow, getting big games at DSGP is a pretty solid way to get the attention of the fans around the state. They got some attention when they hosted the USWNT for that friendly against Australia, and an important game for the USMNT would probably garner even more.
- Uh, Uno a cero?
We should find out some time later this week who won the hosting rights to the match. Hopefully, it will be us seeing our first USMNT game in several years when March rolls around.