The 2016 Copa America Centenario was so successful financially that CONCACAF is looking to change the Gold Cup in order to have a showcase event in the USA every four years involving the best sides in CONCACAF and South America.
The Centenario was not well organized after nearly collapsing following the arrests of several regional soccer leaders in an investigation into corruption allegations. Still it managed to generate more than $400 million according to Bloomberg.
Having more time to sell commercial rights would lead to far higher revenues, said Patrick Nally, the Englishman who pioneered sports sponsorship at global governing body FIFA.
The 2016 European Championship had sales of more than $2 billion, and Nally said a joint event featuring the best teams from North and South America could generate at least half that much.
“As a tournament it would be very strong commercially,” Nally said by phone.
“The U.S. is a very commercially viable market with more broadcast and media opportunities as soccer is gathering more and more momentum there.”
For broadcasters, the 2016 Centenario, won by Chile in a final against Argentina in front of a packed MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, was a huge success. Univision, which paid $70 million for Spanish-language rights in the U.S., sold more than $135 million in advertising.
Fox Sports which provided the English-language broadcasts have reportedly expressed interest in buying rights to a new event.
Last week, Concacaf announced it had chosen sports marketer Lagardere Sports to sell commercial rights to the next two editions of the Gold Cup, in 2017 and 2019, the same year Brazil hosts the Copa America.
The first opportunity for the proposed combined event is 2020. One stumbling point would be to get professional clubs to release players for another event in soccer’s already packed annual calendar.