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Indianapolis still in hunt to be World Cup host

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Indianapolis was selected as one of 18 host cities to be included in the United State's application to host the World Cup soccer tournament in 2018 or 2022, the Indiana Sports Corp. announced Tuesday afternoon.

The USA Bid Committee this week pared the list down from 27 sites to 18. Soccer sources say FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, is putting an emphasis on holding the event in newer venues, which is playing in Indianapolis’ favor. Lucas Oil Stadium, which was opened less than 17 months ago, would be the local host site.

If the United States is successful in its bid for the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup, the list of 18 cities would be trimmed to about 12 sites in the years leading up to the event.

ISC and other local organizers will continue to work with the USA Bid Committee on the U.S. bid package that will be put forth to FIFA in May. The host countries for the 2018 and 2022 events will be voted on in December.

There are a handful of other countries bidding for the 2018 and 2022 events, including England, Netherlands-Belgium, Russia, Spain-Portugal, Australia and Japan. The  competition will be fierce for the U.S. going forward, said ISC spokesman John Dedman.

The selection process started with more than 40 possible U.S. venues. The last time the U.S. hosted the World Cup was 1994, and the closest host city at that time was Chicago.

The 1994 World Cup brought in a record 3.6 million fans from around the globe. The average per-game crowd was 69,000. The economic impact for the entire tournament is in the hundreds of millions. But there aren't many studies on what each round would net the host cities.

Indianapolis, if it is fortunate enough to be chosen, would most likely host a preliminary pool-play round. Preliminary pool play involves four teams playing over a week-long period.

Most sports economists agree that even a preliminary round of the World Cup could carry an economic impact near that of an NCAA Men's Final Four basketball tourney. Studies show that direct visitor spending for a men's Final Four is between $45 million and $50 million.

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