MAJOR SOCCER LEAGUE EXPANSION COULD HELP USA WORLD CUP BID

2010 looks set to be an exciting year for Major League Soccer as it expands to 16 teams, bringing with it a host of impressive venues for the new campaign.

The MLS has long-term plans to expand to 20 teams, possibly as soon as 2012.

These expansion plans come at a time where American interest in football is reaching fever pitch as the country ups the ante in their bid for the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The US hosted the tournament 15 years ago and despite widespread cynicism produced a very successful World Cup. The '94 FIFA World Cup still holds the record for the highest attendance in history, with an average draw of 69,000 fans per game and 3.6 million attendees overall.

In 2009, 101 top-flight matches took place in the US, including top European clubs like Barcelona, AC Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

Stadium expansion and redevelopment are all high on the agenda as many clubs are looking to increase capacity and facilities.

New MLS club Philadelphia Union will move into PPL Park, their new 18,500-seater stadium in June to add to an already impressive array of MLS venues.

Gillette Stadium, in Massachusetts is the largest in MLS. It is home to New England Revolution and boasts a 68,756-seater capacity. Qwest Field has a normal capacity of 36,000 for the Seattle Sounders but can boost capacity 67,000 for special events.

RFK Stadium is a 45,596- seater stadium in Washington, one of the older venues in MLS, and was built in 1961. It is named after US Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

Many of the MLS stadiums including Pizza Hut Park, Rio Tinto Stadium and Dick's Sporting Goods Park are relatively small in comparison with other bid nations.

Yet there are numerous large stadiums used for NFL, MLB and other sports which could be modified for football. There are 24 NFL stadiums that have a capacity of over 80,000, with five holding over 100,000.

FIFA will decide the winning bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup in December 2010.

It will consider 10 bids in total from a number of different countries, including Russia, England, Qatar, Japan and also a joint bid from Portugal and Spain.

Posted on 26/02/2010