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Stanford preparing for infusion of soccer mania, enthusiasm
STANFORD -- While the first of six World Cup soccer matches at Stanford Stadium is not scheduled to start until 1 p.m. Monday, June 20, the World Cup frenzy began in earnest at 8 a.m. the previous Monday, June 13.
By that time, the stage from Sunday's commencement ceremonies had been dismantled and removed. All other traces of the graduation exercises have disappeared, and Stanford Stadium became the temporary property of World Cup USA 1994 Inc.
All five teams scheduled to participate in the regional competition - Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Russia and Switzerland - have settled in at their training sites, and thousands of early bird fans from all corners of the globe are in the Bay Area. By the time the tournament ends in July, they will have pumped an estimated $338 million into the local economy, World Cup officials say.
Media representatives alone should number about 2,500 at Stanford, one of nine U.S. venues for the world's most popular sporting event, held every four years. Globally, the television audience for the entire 52-game tournament is expected to total more than 31 billion.
Enthusiasm for the project is mixed at Stanford. Some faculty and staff have privately been grumbling about the sometimes presumptuous World Cup representatives, about possible fan violence and about the university's financial contribution to the endeavor.
Others see the international event as an opportunity to increase global goodwill and visibility, and nearly everyone would agree that - barring violence or a poorly timed major earthquake - the stunning beauty of the campus will translate well on television, in any language.
Terry Shepard, director of university communications, who has fielded many of the complaints, said the only appropriate reaction is, "The fact is, the World Cup is coming here, and we're all working very hard to help make it a success."
While virtually all the activity (except security and some facilities-related operations) that takes place within the boundaries of what is known as the World Cup Complex will be the direct responsibility of World Cup, a number of Stanford departments have been, and will continue to be, actively involved in helping stage this mega-event.
Those departments include Athletics, Events and Services, Employee Relations, Facilities Operations, Government Relations, News Service, Public Safety, Transportation Programs, and University Communications, among others.
Following is a roundup of World Cup news that may be of interest to the Stanford community as the big day approaches:
Stanford Stadium will host six games: four first-round matches, one Round of 16 match and a quarterfinal match. Other U.S. venues are in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C. Semifinal matches will be played in New York (actually, Giants Stadium in New Jersey) and Los Angeles (the Rose Bowl in Pasadena); the world championship match will place in the Rose Bowl.
(The Federation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, soccer's world governing body, identifies all venues by the hub of the metropolitan area. The Stanford matches are, in FIFA publications, being played in "San Francisco.")
Matches at Stanford:
Monday, June 20, 1 p.m.: Brazil vs. Russia.
Friday, June 24, 1 p.m.: Brazil vs. Cameroon.
Sunday, June 26, 1 p.m.: Switzerland vs. Colombia.
Tuesday, June 28, 1 p.m.: Russia vs. Cameroon.
Monday, July 4, 12:30 p.m.: Round of 16 match, teams to be determined.
Sunday, July 10, 12:30 p.m., Quarterfinal match, teams to be determined.
The games are expected to last about two hours apiece. Soccer is played in two 45-minute periods with a short intermission and few clock stoppages. The playoff games could go longer, because overtime is a possibility. The first-round games can end in ties after regulation.
Stanford Police Chief Marvin Herrington is in charge of a security force that may number as many as 700 people on game days. It will include sworn and unsworn but trained officers, and private security guards and trained volunteers.
Valerie Veronin, who is coordinating World Cup for Stanford, said some of the private security forces will be under direct supervision of World Cup, but most will be under Herrington.
Most observers feel large outbreaks of soccer "hooliganism" at Stanford are unlikely for a number of reasons, including the nature of the teams that were drawn to play here. Brazilian fans, for instance, are among the most celebratory and colorful in the sporting world, but the country is not associated with soccer riots or related violence as is, say, England (which did not qualify for World Cup play).
In addition, Herrington said, fans from different countries will be interspersed throughout the stadium, and nearly half of any given crowd will be Americans, many of them with children.
Alcohol is not allowed in Stanford Stadium, which should also help, Herrington said. The police have been training for these matches for months, using a modified version of the security plans that have been time-tested at Stanford football games.
In addition, the Department of Defense has installed a number of security devices and systems to help the personnel do their jobs. A double fence will ring the stadium, and a video crowd-monitoring system is in place. All entering fans will be searched - with anything that could be used as a weapon (such as an umbrella) or a projectile banned.
Stanford's field fence, also known as a "pitch fence," has been the subject of a dispute between the university and FIFA. World Cup officials want it removed for the matches, but the fence - versions of which have been in place for about 20 years - will stay, Veronin said.
FIFA's desire to remove field fences at all venues - Washington, D.C., and Dallas also have them, and the presence of the fences is considered by some degrading to soccer fans - was strong enough that FIFA president Joao Havelange and general secretary Sepp Blatter asked President Clinton to intervene during a courtesy meeting with the president on Tuesday, May 31.
Clinton "wisely chose not to get involved," Herrington later said.
Members of the media and soccer "royalty" will have direct access to the press box and VIP seating areas via a newly installed temporary bridgewalk from their staging area.
Herrington also said people on campus may notice increased helicopter activity during the World Cup matches. Most of the choppers will be assigned to monitor traffic, he said.
Overall, police say they are hoping for the best but are adequately prepared for the worst.
"We think we've got a very good plan, and that it will work," said Herrington.
Parking and transportation
For the typical Stanford employee, resident or summer student, a little advance planning is all that is needed to get through World Cup without major difficulty, officials believe. Two of the games take place on Sundays, and a third on the Fourth of July holiday, so employees only have three matches with which to contend.
The university has devised a number of options and alternatives for commuters and residents, such as urging some employees to work at home or take vacation time off, and making adjustments in traffic patterns and shuttle bus routes (see separate story).
Physical improvements and finances
Anyone who has been in the vicinity of Stanford Stadium recently must realize that something big is happening; workers are furiously swarming over the area to get it ready for soccer's main event.
A huge media center is being erected on the south side of the stadium. The media/VIP complex actually will consist of numerous tents, temporary buildings and trailers, Veronin said. Access to the areas will be tightly controlled. A staging area also is being set up for media representatives, primarily from television, not credentialed to cover the matches themselves.
The stadium itself has undergone a year's worth of facelift in anticipation of the World Cup. All the wooden benches are gone, replaced by gleaming gold-colored aluminum benches, and the press box has been remodeled.
The university had the option of purchasing the security systems installed by the Department of Defense, and decided to exercise that option, Herrington said, for future use. These include the new perimeter fence and the video surveillance network.
Financially, the university should wind up spending roughly $700,000 more than it takes in to host the event; since that is approximately the cost of the new stadium benches, which are considered a capital improvement, the university considers the event roughly a break- even proposition.
Revenue totals about $1.8 million; about $500,000 in rent for the World Cup games and two exhibition matches, $500,000 in capital investment by World Cup and a projected net $800,000 in parking. The parking figure could wind up being anywhere between $500,000 and $900,000, Veronin said.
Expenses are $2.5 million - $2.2 million in capital improvements and $300,000 in operating expenses.
Security is being paid for by World Cup, as it is at all nine U.S. venues.
Three weeks before the first match, Veronin was asked what, if anything, the university might do differently if faced again with a similar project.
"I think we may have underestimated how big this thing is going to be," she said. "We probably should have had an entire committee of people working full time on this for months."
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