Atlanta to host opening match of 2024 Copa América, Miami to host final: Why it’s significant for local markets

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Atlanta and Miami will host prominent matches for the 2024 Copa América, with Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium set to host the tournament opener on June 20 and Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium to host the final on July 14. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The tournament — in its 48th edition next year — is the oldest national team tournament in the world.
  • It will include 10 CONMEBOL teams and six guest teams from CONCACAF, with the guest teams qualifying through the 2023-24 CONCACAF Nations League this fall.
  • This is the United States’ second year hosting. The U.S. also hosted the 2016 Copa América, in which it finished fourth as an invitee that year.
  • Argentina has hosted the tournament a record nine times and won it a record 16 times.

What this means for local markets, MLS stars

The 71,000-seater Mercedes-Benz Stadium, near downtown Atlanta, has held several major sporting events since opening in 2017, including Super Bowl LIII and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, as well as setting attendance records with MLS side Atlanta United. The retractable-roof stadium will install a grass pitch over its artificial playing surface for the tournament, making it more soccer-friendly.

That won’t be a problem for Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., which already has a grass field to go with its retractable roof and 65,326-seater capacity. Both stadiums have been selected for the 2026 World Cup, which will take place in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

This is not just a big win for the local markets, which will welcome some of the best players in the world during the month-long tournament, but also for MLS, which could have a local representative in the opener and final, providing things go to plan for Argentina. Inter Miami’s Lionel Messi has expressed his desire to compete in next year’s Copa América, and while he is still capable, La Albiceleste remains among the favorites to win the second Copa América played outside of South America.

For the opener, Atlanta United star Thiago Almada, part of last year’s World Cup-winning squad, may have the opportunity to play in front of his home crowd for Argentina — who could play in the tournament’s first game as holders — providing he is called up to represent the 15-time champions and remains at the MLS franchise until next summer. — Elias Burke, soccer staff writer

Looking ahead

The 2024 Copa América will be the second time in the tournament’s history that it has hosted 16 teams. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela qualify automatically as members of CONMEBOL (the continental governing body of football in South America). The United States looks set to join them after comfortably beating Trinidad and Tobago in the first leg of their CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal. The remaining five participants are yet to be decided from Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, Canada, Mexico and Honduras.

While getting an update on where the final and opener will take place is encouraging, fans wanting to arrange travel to the United States are still unaware of the other host cities and stadiums.

Unless there is an update ahead of time, the next significant date in the build-up for the tournament is Dec. 7, where the group-stage draw is set to be held at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. — Burke

What they’re saying

“Hosting the opening match of this prestigious tournament is an incredible achievement for everyone involved, and our region’s soccer profile has once again been raised to the highest level with this announcement,” Dan Corso, chairman of the board of Atlanta Sports, said in a statement.

“As a global entertainment destination, we strive to reflect Miami’s dynamic and international culture,” Tom Garfinkel, president and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, said. “This selection is thanks to the collaborative work of multiple stakeholders, including Stephen Ross, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and our local and national officials. We are excited to offer an incredible world-class experience to both players and fans and to highlight the passion of football in our community.”

Required reading

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)

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