Thursday, May 10, 2012

FIFA Women's World Cup Comes to Winnipeg in 2015

In terms of sports, this ranks up there with one of the greatest moments in Winnipeg history. The announcement that 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup soccer will be played in the city. Now, don't get me wrong, the city has hosted some amazing national and international sports events but this is truly a global spectacle.

The last World Cup played in Germany in 2011 saw Japan win in a incredible shoot out. Monster crowds watched and monster TV ratings ensued throughout world-wide (although only the final games in the U.S. produced big numbers).

Canada, eliminated from the final rounds, still had many people riveted to CBC and Rogers coverage. It was compelling TV and the country embraced it despite having our national team out of it.

The Germans sold out all 32 games played in 8 venues. It should be interesting to note that Investor's Group Field would have been bigger than all but three of the stadiums that hosted the 2011 games.

A lot more excitement will be coming with the games as Canada prepares a team that has done no better than 4th place in the biggest soccer event in the world. After the winter Olympics in Vancouver, there is a realization that to place high requires a ramping up of all that is needed to perform well. The best results ever in those games didn't come overnight and one can expect as much for the cup.

Every teenage girl playing soccer in Canada will no doubt think about the coming games. Some will be good enough to make the team. Parents should be aware that elite athlete training will be kicking it up a notch from here on in.

For the fans, breadcrumbs of the emblem and mascot will be dangled before us. Announcements of TV coverage, game schedules and right at end, team rosters is going to build excitement.

Winnipeg will one of only six cities in Canada hosting the games. The others are Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal and MonctonHalifax dropped out when cash strapped Nova Scotia and the federal government refused to put up any money for a new stadium. Shame. I think a new stadium would have equalled a CFL team in the newly muscular Halifax.

As for Toronto, they are cursing these last days about why Winnipeg gets the FIFA Word Cup and they get the 2015 Pan Am Games. How soon they forget. It wasn't too far back that the two time Olympics loser was wondering what event with some world class credentials they could land. Some wondered how Winnipeg was able to land the Pam Ams in 1967 and 1999 and thought: If they can do it, so can we.

Well, now some of the citizenry of Toronto are eyeing the soccer that will be drawing millions upon millions of viewers and wondering if they did't pick the wrong thing to stake their claim to. Can't be helped now.

Nothing Winnipeg has done in sport and sporting events to date comes close to tourist and TV bonanza that the Women' s World Cup will begin.

All it all happens sooner than we think. The private sector and three levels of government need to start getting this right and fast. The entire tourism ad campaign should focus on this when seen across Canada and internationally. Key will be to sell out all the games, then fill all the hotels, all the restaurants and then make sure we treat the media that visits the city for the event like we celebrate like this all the time.

I'm not quite sure the people of the city know just how big this will all be. Even though they are playing out of just one venue, this is the biggest sporting event Winnipeg has ever held.

It is going to be good.


ekimsharpe said...

i agree, this is going to be a big deal.
most winnipeggers aren't quite sure what to make of it yet. it seems fickle but some strong performances from team canada might be needed in the build-up to generate the public interest and excitement that a world cup deserves.
as an aside, what would be the winnipeg equivalent to the vuvuzela?

reedsolomon.matr1x at said...

I'm just not that excited.

Anonymous said...

It's Womens Soccer. No one cares.