Palo Alto catches soccer fever

Publication Date: Wednesday Aug 13, 1997

COMMUNITY: Palo Alto catches soccer fever

Vote backs Bay Area's bid to host women's World Cup soccer tournament

by Elisabeth Traugott

If you thought World Cup soccer at Stanford was a once-in-a-lifetime event, think again. Led by self-confessed soccer fanatic and Palo Alto City Council member Gary Fazzino, a campaign to bring the 1999 women's World Cup soccer tournament to town is in the works.

At a recent City Council meeting, Fazzino outlined the benefits the tournament would bring to the area. He and his fellow council members--including former girls' soccer coach Liz Kniss--unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Bay Area's bid to attract the games.

"This area has a tremendous opportunity to be one of the hosts for women's World Cup soccer," said Fazzino, who serves on the San Jose Sports Authority.

Officials say they expect to find out in October whether Stanford will be the site of the Women's World Cup.

The city of Palo Alto, the city of San Jose, San Jose State University and Stanford University would be among the beneficiaries of a successful bid by the Women's Cup 1999 Organizing Committee.

According to Fazzino, some of the first-round matches may be played in San Jose State's Spartan Stadium, which seats about 25,000.

A first-round match featuring the U.S. team may be played in Stanford Stadium, which seats 85,000. Stanford also may serve as a venue for a semifinal match.

The women's World Cup was first played in China in 1991. The following tournament was played in Norway, and the United States has been chosen as the host country in 1999. According to Fazzino, the Bay Area is competing with cities like Seattle, New York, Atlanta and Orlando to host the tourney.

But Fazzino says "the chances are good" that the World Cup will come here because of the area's excellent reputation for fostering women's athletics.

"This area has been a real hotbed for supporting women's sports," said Fazzino. Palo Alto is the home of the American Basketball League for women and Olympic women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer coaches at Stanford.

But while the competition may be a big draw for hotels and may generate international attention for the area, the city would not necessarily be reimbursed for all its costs.

City Manager June Fleming confirmed that in 1994, when some of the men's World Cup matches were played here, at least a portion of the tab was left for the city to pick up.

City Council member Sandy Eakins also raised the issue of traffic congestions, particularly in the Southgate and Downtown North Neighborhoods. Fleming reminded everyone how well-planned the traffic routes were during the men's World Cup, down to the shortcuts expectant mothers could take in the event they needed to reach the hospital during peak traffic times.

"I think we can handle it with proper planning," Fleming said. 

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