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Pros And Cons To Seattle Vying For 2026 World Cup Site

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, left, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan share a laugh during a news conference discussing the awarding of the 2026 World Cup soccer tournament to North America, Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Seattle.

Seattle wants to be part of the 2026 World Cup soccer tournament. It was announced this week that the United States, Canada, and Mexico will host the international competition in eight years.

Seattle is vying to be one of the 10 U.S. cities to host the games in North America. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel told KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick the city has a good chance but it’s not a certainty.

Pro: Seattle's Soccer Passion

"I think there's a real strength here in the community," Thiel said.

"The Sounder attendance has been among the league leaders. They've really done a great job in youth soccer. So, there's, kind of, a built-in passion for the game going back decades."

Con: Artificial Turf

"The drawback that the Seattle bid will have is that CenturyLink Field has got an artificial surface," Thiel continued. "The world soccer community hates fake grass."

"So Seattle will do what it has done in the past when it's hosted international tournaments and friendlies: they truck in sod and lay it over the artificial surface."

"That's worked sometimes and sometimes it hasn't. There have been coaches from international teams who've come here and said, 'Oh, ick. There's a big gap in the seams.' Or, 'There are lumps.' Or, whatever. It has had a spotty history."

"But Adrian Hanauer, the majority owner of the Sounders, was adamant (at a news conference this week) that it will be a non-issue."

"He said they're going to be able to have the turf installed weeks ahead of the first game, allowing the grass to knit together."

"He also antipates technological improvements that will make the natural grass even better than it is now."

Pro: Would Put Seattle On Map

"It definitely is a big deal for Seattle - a city that, for all its size and robust economy, doesn't host many national or international sports events," Thiel said.

"This is what they hope to be kind of a coming out party for Seattle as an international sports marketplace."

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Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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