Dan Hilferty was already on the middle of Philadelphia’s 2026 World Cup planning because the chair of the native organizing committee. However his latest transfer to change into Comcast-Spectacor’s new CEO has put him much more on the middle of the motion.
Comcast is among the many most influential sponsors of the native World Cup effort, and definitely essentially the most well-known title. Comcast-Spectacor is only one department of the corporate, whose TV division owns the Spanish-language rights to the 2026 match (and this yr’s ladies’s World Cup), in addition to the rights to the English Premier League, Olympics, and U.S. nationwide staff house video games.
The assorted branches often function on their very own. However for one thing this huge, there’s overlap behind the scenes.
“We discover synergies and [are] determining how we may work intently with FIFA to enhance the fan expertise,” Hilferty stated. “But in addition, fairly frankly, to ensure that not solely our clients, however Philadelphians generally have a chance to be a part of this nice occasion.”
How that performs out can be one of many greatest native soccer tales of the subsequent three years. There’s already been numerous controversy over plans to construct a sports activities subject advanced in FDR Park that will function a World Cup follow facility that summer time.
A loud caucus in South Philadelphia is against constructing over park land often called the Meadows. A equally loud caucus has responded by noting the town’s lack of leisure sports activities services. Native officers have tried to assert there’s room for each.
» READ MORE: FDR Park neighborhood assembly attracts lots of, begins off in tense face-off
Protesters at a gathering in January about plans to construct a sports activities subject advanced at FDR Park.. … Learn moreJessica Griffin / Employees Photographer
Hilferty made no reference to that topic, although that wasn’t too stunning — it’s been dealt with extra by Metropolis Corridor. However he has been concerned in different areas, together with a collection of latest conferences with FIFA on topics like lodge capability.
“They really feel excellent about the place we stand,” Hilferty stated of FIFA. “Not solely with the [stadium] website, growing sponsorships, but additionally planning round every thing from the place we’re going to do the fan fest to the place we’re with all of the motels.”
The fan fest location is one other huge merchandise in the case of issues past the sports activities advanced, for native residents and out-of-town guests alike. Penn’s Touchdown has been the front-runner location for some time, however Hilferty stated there’s nonetheless no choice but.
“That’s a dialogue with the parents at FIFA, and at this level we haven’t recognized a closing website,” he stated.
The following huge factor on the calendar is incomes internet hosting rights for subsequent yr’s Copa América, the South American championship match that can come to the U.S. as a warmup for 2026. Because the 2016 Copa América Centenario did, it’s anticipated to drive a spike in curiosity, and function a take a look at run for World Cup host venues.
However there’s no assure that it will likely be performed solely at World Cup websites. Cities that got here up quick within the bidding may get Copa video games as a comfort prize, as may huge markets like Phoenix and Chicago that didn’t bid for World Cup video games in any respect. So Philadelphia should compete.
» READ MORE: Dan Hilferty, who ran IBX and helped Philly land the World Cup, is new boss at Comcast Spectacor
Lincoln Monetary Discipline hosted video games within the 2016 Copa América Centenario, and will host video games when the match returns to america subsequent yr.. … Learn moreCal Sport Media by way of AP Photos
Hilferty stated the World Cup organizing committee gained’t be formally concerned in that, however he despatched a message to the entities that can take the lead.
“I definitely hope the powers that be which might be concerned, whether or not it’s the town, [the] Conference and Guests Bureau, that we have now an excellent shot at it.”
The Eagles may also be considerably concerned — and video games of the Copa’s scale would undoubtedly be at Lincoln Monetary Discipline. Whether or not the U.S. performs right here or not, the crowds will simply be larger than Subaru Park’s 18,500-seat capability.
“Our area is house to a big and passionate soccer neighborhood,” the Eagles stated in an announcement. “We’ll at all times be considering taking part in conversations that might result in bringing world-class soccer occasions to Lincoln Monetary Discipline for these followers to take pleasure in.”
Whereas the World Cup committee won’t be formally concerned in Copa América planning, Hilferty is aware of that everybody on the town shares duty for getting marquee occasions right here earlier than 2026. The Linc hasn’t hosted an enormous soccer recreation since August 2019, when the U.S. ladies got here to city after the World Cup and drew practically 50,000 followers — the largest crowd for a standalone pleasant in staff historical past.
» READ MORE: Philly’s 2026 World Cup bid officers plan for the dimensions of internet hosting the world
The U.S. ladies’s soccer staff drew 49,504 followers to Lincoln Monetary Discipline for a recreation there in 2019.. … Learn moreMitchell Leff / Getty Photos
The pandemic has clearly been an element, however three and a half years is a protracted sufficient wait. European groups will return to the U.S. for excursions this summer time, and there would be the Concacaf males’s Gold Cup.
Nor has the location for the boys’s Nations League closing 4 been set but. That’s the occasion the place the U.S. will possible play Europe-based stars reminiscent of Medford’s Brenden Aaronson and Downingtown’s Zack Steffen, to allow them to take the summer time off. They haven’t performed on the Linc earlier than, and it’s simple to think about them getting a raucous reception.
“If it’s worldwide occasions, if it’s native occasions just like the Unity Cup, to possibly getting some [English Premier League] groups to come back and play [here], we’re all kinds of alternatives,” Hilferty stated. “Clearly the town’s concerned, the Conference and Guests Bureau is concerned, the Eagles are concerned, the Union are concerned. So we proceed to search for methods to develop the sport by inviting premier groups to play right here — women and men.”
Final week, Hilferty was one of many visitors of honor on the Union’s annual Legends of Soccer fundraiser dinner for the staff’s charity basis. The occasion raised greater than $282,000.
“We’re all very happy with the Philadelphia Union, [what] the Philadelphia Union Basis does for our nice neighborhood of Chester and effectively past,” he stated.
» READ MORE: Gio Reyna, Zack Steffen return to USMNT for this month’s Concacaf Nations League video games
Dan Hilferty (left) with Union part-owner Richard Leibovitch on stage on the Union Basis’s Legends of Soccer Gala dinner.. … Learn moreJonathan Tannenwald / Employees
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