Ralph Morton is the executive director of the Seattle Sports Commission. He’s in New York today as a representative for Seattle upon the arrival of the FIFA Inspection Delegation to the United States to check out some our country’s potential host cities and venues for a future World Cup.
FIFA will announce the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup on December 2nd, so things are heating up in that race. Before he left for the East Coast, Morton shared some time with me to discuss this week’s trip, the U.S. bid and Seattle as a potential host city.
* * *
(What will be going on Monday and throughout the week?) “The main goal is to show unity of the United States in this bid and the 18 cities that are participating. There will be representatives there from FIFA and they will be looking at a handful of the potential host cities, but this is really an opportunity for us to come together and show them as a whole what the bid really is.”
(What’s a rough timeline for their trip?) “They’ll be in the United States from September 6 to September 9. They will go to the Meadowlands, FedExField, Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and Reliant Stadium in Houston. They’ll also take a look at Red Bull Arena, the new soccer facility in New York. They were just going to get a snapshot of a couple cities when they’re here.”
(So nothing really Seattle-specific in this trip?) “We’re very much a part of this bid. In the promotional videos, there’s a lot of good Sounders footage in there. One of the most important aspects of the bid is this country’s passion for soccer and Seattle really is important in that aspect because we do such a good job of representing that nationally.”
(What are some of the challenges Seattle faces in becoming a host city, seems like location could be a big one?) “We’re a great location for it. The challenges are like anything you would face: pulling the community together. If we’re a part of hosting games, the city is going to have to make a lot of things happen, which we would do. There are no challenges out there that can’t be overcome and I don’t think we’d be a part of this bid if we weren’t one of their prime selections. First and foremost is the United States getting the bid. That’s the priority right now, is the support of the U.S. bid.”
(Saw a recent release of getting 1,000,000 signatures on GoUSAbid.com, how important is that benchmark and the petition in general?) “It’s very important to the U.S. bid because it goes well beyond saying we have great hotels and venues and infrastructure. They want to know the country supports this and that’s really a very tangible way the U.S. can show that its citizens are behind this and passionate about the sport. I think it’s something that we’re trying to do as a community to support the bid, like anything we do, so we want to finish nothing less than first. Quite honestly we’re not first right now. We’re pushing very hard because we want more people to sign up from Seattle to support to U.S.’s bid.”
(So there is a lot of emphasis on this petition and it’s the best thing people can do to help?) “Absolutely. That is something people can do to be involved in a very tangible way. Plus once their email is there, it allows them to stay in the loop as to what’s going on with the bid. … For the city of Seattle, that is the primary objective. That is the one thing as a community we can do to support the bid.”
(Seems like Seattle would be a strong candidate to host, but is it too soon to look at Seattle’s standing in the U.S. bid?) “It’s too early to really look at that. I feel very good about our position in the bid, but most importantly it’s the United States and that’s who we support right now. I feel like we’re a great part of the bid though and I feel good because of that.”
(And the support of Sounders FC fans obviously plays a big part in that) “That’s huge because there’s a lot of stadiums, but what I think they’re looking for internationally is passion for soccer. And it is absolutely something that is displayed in a very tangible and visible way. ”
* * *