ARLINGTON, Texas – When we posted about the Cowboys Stadium bedraggled field yesterday, and when I posted on the Twitter about the PST post on this lame creature, a few of you wanted to know “why?”
As in, why make four surviving tournament teams play on the doggone thing?
If we knew the field would be too small (we did), and if we knew the history of temporary grass surfaces everywhere and inside Cowboys Stadium in particular was splotchy at best (it is), then why bother?
The answer, of course, is green. You know, cash money. The sweet sound of cash register “Ka-ching!” It’s a case of dollars over good sense.
Yes, a doubleheader that was always likely to feature Mexico and the United States will draw nicely in Texas with its heavy Latino population. (A local demographic that also includes a significant Honduran population, which will help drive Wednesday’s gate even more.)
But a lot of places are heavy in Latino demographics. While it’s great to spread the big-game love, Houston’s relatively nearby Reliant Stadium always does well in international soccer attendance, and the grass field there is rarely problematic.
For that matter, if they truly craved Dallas as a venue, the historic Cotton Bowl, which seats a very healthy 90,000, sits just beyond downtown Dallas. The 1994 World Cup venue, which has hosted the U.S. national team as recently as 2004, was a Gold Cup training site, in fact.
The sticking point for the Cotton Bowl is luxury suites. More specifically, a lack of them at the older ground. Plus, there is greater prestige in playing in the newer, more heralded ground.
So essentially, the Gold Cup organizers (CONCACAF officials) chose a little more money and a better ability to schmooze sponsors over player safety. That’s it.
In the bigger picture, does a 12-team tournament really need to be staged over 13 venues? Of course not.
But sure enough, the participating teams are being dragged all over the country in a bid to maximize exposure and profit. On one hand, a reach for greater exposure is reasonable and understandable.
But in the future, let’s hope organizers check their greed. And let’s hope they come to understand there are plenty of great venues of varying size across our great land, plenty of outstanding facilities that will accommodate a full-sized, natural grass field.