Orlando was named as one of ten host cities for the Copa America Centenario which will be held in the United States next summer. Copa America is the continental championship for South America. The hundredth anniversary Copa America being held outside the region raised eyebrows when it was announced in 2013.
The tournament was in serious doubt following the onset of the FIFA scandal following a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into alleged bribes that precipitated the first-ever move of South America’s championship outside the region to the United States. The tournament has been expanded from its usual 12 teams to 16 to allow the entrance of additional nations from North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.
Brazilian Sports Marketing company Traffic Sports, which until November 2014 owned the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers (and still maintains a majority of Class B shares in that league) was at the epicenter of the scandal involving the Copa America Centenario and other international events. Traffic Sports allegedly, according to the DOJ was involved in bribery schemes to secure marketing rights to multiple North and South American soccer events over a twenty year period. Traffic Sports’ USA division headquartered in Miami played a critical role the creation of this tournament and the decision to hold it on American soil.
Following a period of uncertainty this summer, when in light of the allegations against Traffic and other entities doing business with the governing bodies for North American (CONCACAF) and South American (COMNEBOL) soccer the United States withdrew from hosting the tournament, compromises were made and the tournament will go on as originally scheduled.
The tournament will take place from June 3-26, 2016. The host metropolitan areas and respective stadiums are: Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium), Chicago (Soldier Field), Foxborough (Gillette Stadium), Houston (NRG Stadium), New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium), Orlando (Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium), Pasadena (Rose Bowl), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), Phoenix (University of Phoenix Stadium) and Seattle (CenturyLink Field). Similar to the FIFA World Cup, each venue will host matches on multiple days through the tournament. Most venues will host at least three games,and each venue has a seating capacity of over 60,000.
Given the Citrus Bowl’s current surface is artificial turf, it would be expected that grass will replace turf for the Copa America games, as international soccer competitions or club matches are very rarely held on anything but natural grass.