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Goal! Copa America soccer tournament to play in Phoenix area

Superstar Lionel Messi is just one star who may play in the 2016 Copa America. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

PHOENIX — Get ready, Phoenix soccer fans: Copa America, one of the world’s biggest tournaments — and possibly featuring some of the world’s biggest stars — is headed your way.

U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale would be one of 10 host stadiums for the 2016 Copa America. It is the first time the tournament will be played outside of South America.

“These 10 cities and venues will provide a fantastic setting for fans across the world to attend Copa America Centenario and allow them to see the amazing passion for soccer in the United States,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a press release.

At least three games are expected to be played in Phoenix between June 3-26.

The Copa America features six teams — including the United States and Mexico — from North American and the Caribbean and 10 teams from South America.

Some of the South America teams, such as Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, boast some of the world’s most popular players, including Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

The tournament is also expected to bring a tidy sum to the Valley.

“You could have tourists from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico coming to Arizona, many for the first time,” Garrick Taylor with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce said. “[They will] have a chance to check out top-flight soccer as well as visit places like the Grand Canyon for the first time.”

Though no one has a firm number on how much the tournament could bring in, Taylor said the chamber hopes the games have a lasting economic impact on the Phoenix area.

“You hope that visitors to Arizona will give the state a second look, hopefully for future investment,” he said. “Whether that’s for tourism or even bringing jobs here, that’s what you hope happens.”

Fans who want to attend games should sign up for updates from the Copa America website.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Houston, Chicago, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia and Seattle were also named host sites.

KTAR’s Mike Sackley contributed to this report.

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