D.C. expected to get Cup opener

February 28, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

Tradition has it that the opening or closing ceremonies of the World Cup are held in the capital city of the host country. Yesterday, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia signed a formal agreement in a partnership that is designed to bring seven 1994 World Cup games, including the opening game, to D.C., the prestigious FIFA Congress to Baltimore, and training sites to Maryland and Virginia.

"We are the leading candidate for the opening game," said Amilio Pozzi, project manager for the Region 1994 Committee. And since the FIFA Congress goes with the opening games, Baltimore is also a front-runner.

The regional partners presented their bid yesterday to Scott LeTellier, the chief operating officer for the World Cup USA 1994 organizing committee. Guido Tognoni, a senior official from FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, told those gathered for the news conference at the National Press Club, "I cannot imagine not having World Cup games in D.C."

Also bidding for the opening game are Chicago, Tampa and, possibly, Dallas.

The economic impact on the area is expected to be about $180 million, if the opening game is awarded to RFK Stadium, and about $50 million if other games -- not including the opening game, are awarded.

"We have the possibility of hosting one of the most prestigious international sports organizations in the world," said Dean Kenderdine, assistant secretary of the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.

The region must wait until December to learn if it has been awarded games and until next spring to find out exactly which games it has been awarded. But Pozzi described the group's bid as very strong.

The games would be played at RFK Stadium, with the University of Maryland-College Park campus and Essex Community College as possible training sites.

Bids for the World Cup will be presented by 28 cities. This region is the first to complete the entire bid package, which includes the formal partnership agreements and a bond of $157,549 on deposit with the USA organizing committee.

John Kosinen, co-owner of the Maryland Bays professional soccer team and chairman of the local effort, also said any leftover funds raised will be used in inner city soccer programs in Baltimore, Washington and Richmond, Va.

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