For the third time in the competition’s history, the Concacaf Gold Cup final will be played at Soldier Field next year.
Organizers for the international soccer tournament — held every two years to determine the champion of North and Central America and the Caribbean — are expected to make the announcement official Thursday. The final is scheduled to be played Sunday, July 7.
“We’re incredibly excited to announce Chicago and Soldier Field as the host,” Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio told the Tribune. “We conducted a pretty thorough analysis of the venues and a review of previous Gold Cups, and given our history (in Chicago), we determined Chicago made a lot of sense.”
In May, Concacaf announced it had selected Soldier Field as one of 15 U.S. venues that will host matches.
Soldier Field is no stranger to the Gold Cup, having been used in five previous tournaments (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015) and serving as the host venue for the final in 2011 and 2013. The stadium will set a Gold Cup record next year for most tournament appearances.
In a statement, Concacaf President Victor Montagliani called Chicago a “remarkable city that welcomes and unites fans from across the region, who share the love for our game.”
In addition to previous Gold Cup experience, Moggio cited Soldier Field’s past hosting of other major soccer events, including the 1994 World Cup, 1999 Women’s World Cup, 2016 Copa America Centenario and 2017 MLS All-Star Game.
“All have been tremendous experiences in terms of fan engagement and how the community gets behind the competitions,” he said.
The 2019 Gold Cup will expand to 16 teams from 12. Six nations already have qualified: the United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. The remaining teams will qualify through Concacaf Nations League qualifiers held on FIFA international dates through March.
“The driver behind expansion is to provide more access to our federations to compete,” Moggio said. “More competition drives development, gives top teams a chance to size themselves up and play official competitions on a more regular basis. Getting to a Gold Cup is like the World Cup for some of our nations. It’s the pinnacle of our region.”