John Koskinen, chairman of the Washington-area bid committee, is on edge. He didn't expect to be. But he is. The
feeling won't be assuaged until tomorrow, when game sites are announced for the 1994 World Cup.
"Historically, I've been very bullish on our being picked," said Koskinen, who was co-owner of the Maryland Bays of the American Professional Soccer League until they folded this winter.
"We're the nation's capital," he said. "All the embassies are here and we've met all the requirements. In the past, the capital cities traditionally have been major players with a major role, hosting the opening or closing ceremonies. It never occurred to me, until about two weeks ago, that we might not make it."
That's when the rumors started. FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, has said it wants up to 12 cities, but suddenly word started to circulate that the organizing committee wanted eight, maybe nine.
"There are all kinds of rumors out there," said Jim Trecker, a spokesman for the U.S. committee. "Eight, nine, 10, 12 cities. This city, that city. Going into this weekend, the process was ongoing. It isn't a situation where FIFA tells us or we tell FIFA. It's more like ongoing discussions that lead to a mutual agreement. I would think by [tonight] we would know which cities are in. I don't think it will run into [tomorrow] morning. And, at this point, we are still talking about from eight to 12 sites."
Nineteen U.S. communities, including Washington, are in the running to play host to the 52-game tournament, June 17 through July 17, 1994. FIFA general secretary Joseph Blatter will reveal the chosen cities shortly after noon tomorrow in New York.
Koskinen, Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, Maryland director of tourism and development George Williams and other area dignitaries will be at a news conference in Washington, watching the bids being announced over a satellite feed.
"The fact Washington was able to put together a creative, strong regional bid with Maryland and Virginia is very positive," said Trecker. "I can't say any more than that. It presented a very, very good candidacy, period."
Washington's only obvious shortcoming is the size of RFK Stadium. It seats 55,683, which is considered a little small by World Cup standards.
Maryland's major part in the Washington bid is to be the site for the FIFA Congress if Washington gets the opening game. The congress is made up of major international political figures who come together every four years to determine the rules of the game for the next four-year cycle.
"The good news is that so many cities have become interested in hosting the games," said Koskinen. "Three years ago, we were involved, but a lot of others weren't. Now, to feel we're on the edge of getting in or being out, well, it reminds us of what a great event the World Cup is and that we should be happy just to get in and not be disappointed if we don't get the opener.
"I really am having pre-announcement anxiety," he said.
Cities thought to be locks are Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, a site in the New York City area (presumably East Rutherford, N.J.), and at least one of three Florida entries -- Miami, Tampa or Orlando.
The specific game assignments, including the opener and the final, will be announced during the first week of July in Zurich,
In the running
Atlanta.. .. .. .. Chicago.. .. .. .. ..Columbus, Ohio
Dallas.. .. .. .. .Denver.. .. .. .. .. East Rutherford, N.J.
Foxboro, Mass. .. .Pontiac, Mich. .. .. Kansas City, Mo.
Los Angeles.. .. ..Pasadena, Calif. .. .Miami
New Haven, Conn. ..New Orleans.. .. .. .Orlando, Fla.
Philadelphia.. .. .Piscataway, N.J. .. .San Francisco
Stanford, Calif. ..Seattle.. .. .. .. ..Tampa, Fla.