In a statement released on Thursday, CONCACAF and host U.S. Soccer announced the selected venues for the the upcoming 2016 centennial edition of Copa America. No, Atlanta's Georgia Dome was not announced as a host venue.
Instead, the tournament will be spread across ten different cities, nearly all of which are regular destinations for U.S. Soccer home matches.
The top stars from the Americas will play in the Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium), Chicago (Soldier Field), Foxborough (Gillette Stadium), Houston (NRG Stadium), New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium), Orlando (Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium), Pasadena (Rose Bowl), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), Phoenix (University of Phoenix Stadium) and Seattle (CenturyLink Field).
While Atlantans will surely be disappointed not to have local games, it's not entirely a surprise that the "Big Peach" wasn't selected, either. Atlanta has certainly never been a home venue for the national team. CONCACAF played hosts to the 2015 Gold Cup semifinals, but prior to that, the Yanks had not played in Atlanta since 1977.
When compared to the other stadiums selected, the Georgia Dome just doesn't bring anything to the table not already offered by other cities. Nearly all of the other venues were built within the last fifteen years. Those that weren't recently constructed have certainly received extensive renovations to compete with the newer stadiums of today. They all offer the latest amenities and concessions.
At twenty three years old, the Dome's bland, enclosed roof certainly didn't help add to the atmosphere. True, Arizona's facility can keep the heat out with its roof, but it also offers a retractable top. Throw in the fact that all of Atlanta's resources are currently going towards the new Mercedes-Benz building next door, and it adds up that the Georgia Dome was none more deserving to host than the other more qualified locations.
Let's wait until the next big tournament or qualifier. With Atlanta set to shortly debut one of the world's premier venues, it's a near certainty that big events will return to our city soon. We've already seen this with commitments from the NCAA to host an upcoming Final Four, as well as a College Football Playoff National Championship. With stunning views to the city through the glass window, a retractable roof, technological advancements beyond near all other stadiums, Atlanta's time is coming. While we do have Atlanta United matches to look forward to, it appears Atlanta is not quite ready for the big stage of the Copa America.