Atlanta gets opening game, Miami the final of Copa America

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Atlanta gets opening game, Miami the final of Copa America

ATLANTA, USA (AP):

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta was awarded the 2024 Copa America opener and South Florida’s Hard Rock Stadium will host the final of the tournament, held outside of its home continent for only the second time.

A joint announcement was made yesterday by football’s governing bodies of South America and of North and Central America and the Caribbean. Other sites and the schedule for the 16-team tournament were not revealed.

The tournament is set to begin on June 20 at 71,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Major League Football’s Atlanta United has set numerous attendance records. Defending Copa America champion Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, will presumably be one of the teams taking part in the opener.

The retractable-roof stadium near downtown Atlanta, which opened in 2017, will install a grass field over its artificial playing surface for the tournament.

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens already has a Bermuda grass field and seats about 65,000 after a $500 million renovation that included installation of a roof above seating areas. The 36-year-old home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins will host the July 14 final.

If Argentina advance to the championship game, it would give Messi a chance to play in the same market as his current MLS team, Inter Miami.

“We expect stadiums filled with the passion of the entire American continent for the inauguration and the final,” Alejandro Dominguez, president of the South American governing body CONMEBOL. said in a statement.

Both stadiums have been selected as sites for the 2026 World Cup, to be played in the United States of America (USA), Mexico and Canada.

“The cities have passionate sports and football fans renowned for getting behind major events,” Victor Montagliani, president of the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Association Football, said in a statement.

Copa America is expanding this season, with six teams from North America joining the usual 10 nations from South America that compete for the continental championship. It mirrors a special tournament that was held in 2016 in the USA to mark the centennial of the event – the only previous time it was staged outside of South America.

The draw will be December 7 in Miami.

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