By Paul Nicholson in Los Angeles
June 13 – It is fitting that the 2019 Gold Cup should kick off in the iconic 92,000 capacity Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California, this Saturday. The expanded Concacaf event enters a new era this month with 16 nations, and a 17 venue schedule that will showcase US stadia and facilities like never before.
Starting at the Rose Bowl that co-hosted all games in the first Gold Cup in 1991, and has been ever present on the Gold Cup schedule since, it is recognition of the contribution this old icon has made to football (soccer) and shows it still can take pride of place in the modern era.
An outdoor stadium better known by many in the US for American Football (it is the home of the UCLA Bruins college team) it’s soccer credentials are impressive and has hosted the world’s biggest finals.
The stadium hosted the 1994 World Cup final (an event watched by more than 700 million people worldwide who saw Brazil beat Italy on penalties), the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final (in front of a capacity 92,000 who saw the US beat China on penalties – really, women’s football in 1999) and the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal match.
It is the only stadium in the world to have hosted all three of these finals and it keeps on coming back for more.
A regular host of the US men’s national team, the Rose Bowl was also a venue for the Copa America Centenario in 2016.
For the 2019 Gold Cup it is hosting the opening matches between Canada and Martinique and Mexico and Cuba.
It is a candidate to host matches for the 2022 World Cup and will be a venue for the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Opened in October 1922, the stadium is recognised as a National History Landmark. It has an all-seated capacity of 92,542 and is the 15th largest stadium in the world, the 11th largest in the US, and the 10th largest NCAA stadium.
Originally built as a horseshoe, the stadium has been expanded several times. The southern stands were completed in 1928, enclosing the stadium into a complete bowl.
That bowl will see the start of 2019 Gold Cup dreams and in many ways is a marker on the route to the 2026 World Cup.
The Rose Bowl was the venue for Gold Cup opening matches in 2013. That day it also set a new world record for the largest number of Mariachi bands playing together (on the pitch) the same song (almost). There were 500 bands on the pitch at half time.
The Mexicans and Mexican Americans will be out in force again June 15, climbing over every wall in their way to get there. The expectations will be just as high, the Futbol Fiesta outside the stadium will buzzing pre-match and the Mexicans will be hoping for a more harmonious performance than in 2013 when they finished the day with a loss to Panama.
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