Baltimore has made the list of 18 potential host cities should the United States win the rights to soccer's World Cup in 2018 or 2022.
The USA Bid Committee, which has been evaluating facilities around the country, said Tuesday that two Maryland sports facilities, M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and FedEx Field in Landover, will be included in its bid of stadium sites for a future FIFA World Cup.
Baltimore will compete with cities such as Atlanta, Miami and New York, as well as Washington. All were included on the list of potential World Cup locations.
Terry Hasseltine, director of Maryland's Office of Sports Marketing, said Baltimore won attention from the international soccer community when a World Football Challenge match between Chelsea FC and AC Milan was held last summer in a sold-out M&T Bank Stadium.
"We are going to turn Baltimore into a soccer mecca," he said at a news conference at the ESPN Zone on Pratt Street in the Inner Harbor. He said the 30-day event would draw thousands of visitors. An estimate said the host city stands to earn revenue of $300 million to $500 million from the games.
He said that local educational institutions, including Towson, Loyola and Stevenson universities, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and McDonogh School, as well as Cedar Lane Regional Park in Bel Air, have offered their athletic fields, should Baltimore be selected as a host city.
Hasseltine said M&T Bank Stadium's downtown location and its proximity to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport helped Baltimore make the list of possible U.S. cities. He also said that thousands of hotel rooms within walking distance helped make the city's case.
World soccer officials will decide in December which countries will host the games in 2018 and 2022. The 2010 World Cup will be held in South Africa, while the 2014 Cup will be in Brazil.
Hasseltine said, "Our selection validates that we have the assets necessary."