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Chicago, San Francisco get World Cup boot

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Chicago’s World Cup bid met the same fate as its try for the Olympics when the Windy City was dropped Tuesday from U.S. plans for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Americans organizers selected 21 stadiums in 18 metropolitan areas to submit in their bid book to FIFA in May.

Also left off was San Francisco, but organizers said the Bay Area could return to contention if the 49ers get a new stadium in Santa Clara. Others not making the cut included Cleveland; Detroit; Jacksonville, Fla.; and St. Louis.

Chicago, beaten by Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics in October, has virtually no chance of getting back in consideration. That was a major surprise, given that Soldier Field hosted the 1994 World Cup opener.

“I think there’s a little Olympic fatigue. I think the Park District had a tough time wrestling with FIFA requirements in short order after the IOC decision,” U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said.

Gulati also cited the 61,000 capacity of renovated Solider Field for World Cup soccer.

“It would have been by about 10 percent the smallest stadium,” Gulati said.

Stanford Stadium south of San Francisco, also a 1994 World Cup site, and the Oakland-Alameda Country Coliseum had been among 32 stadiums in contention before 11 were trimmed Tuesday. Other 1994 World Cup sites dropped were Washington’s RFK Stadium and the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Eighteen metropolitan areas and 21 stadiums survived the cut and will be part of the bid when FIFA’s executive committee votes on Dec. 2 in Zurich.

The 18 metropolitan areas have stadiums in Atlanta; Baltimore; Dallas-Arlington, Texas; Denver; East Rutherford, N.J.; Foxboro, Mass.; Glendale, Ariz.; Houston; Indianapolis, Mo.; Kansas City, Mo.; Landover, Md.; Los Angeles-Pasadena, Calif.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; Philadelphia; San Diego; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla.

Gulati said they 18 stadiums would create an average capacity of 78,000 and allow the sale of a record 5 million tickets. The 1994 tournament in the U.S. set World Cup records with 3.59 million total attendance and an average of 68,991.

FIFA’s rules call for nine to 12 stadiums to be picked. David Downs, U.S. bid executive director, said he hoped the governing body could be persuaded to expand the final list to 14.

Santa Clara and the proposed NFL stadium in Industry, Calif., could become contenders if construction starts by 2013 or 2016, depending on which World Cup the U.S. might get awarded.

David Alioto, the San Jose Earthquakes executive vice president of business operations, called the decision “very premature.”

“The Bay Area has two antiquated stadiums, in San Francisco and Oakland,” he said. “It says there are some new facilities needed on the West Coast.”

England, Netherlands-Belgium, Russia, Spain-Portugal, Australia and Japan also are bidding to host both World Cups. Indonesia, Qatar and South Korea are bidding for 2022 only.

England is viewed as the favorite for 2018 and the U.S. is seen as the leading contender for 2022.

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

© 2010 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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