A high-powered delegation from world football body Fifa is in Whangarei today, evaluating the city's bid to host some of the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup.
Fifa is in the final stages of selecting host cities for the mens' Under-20 World Cup which is being held in New Zealand for the first time in 2015.
The Under-20 World Cup is Fifa's second largest tournament after the Football World Cup. It is broadcast in more than 200 countries and watched by an audience of about 500 million.
The experts say a successful bid for Whangarei could bring in $3.5 million and expose the district to thousands of international visitors.
Whangarei is up against eight other centres - Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, and Wellington - vying to be one of six to eight host cities for the event.
The Fifa delegation has already visited the other cities.
Today it will meet representatives of the Whangarei District Council and the local organising committee to look over the facilities and infrastructure for the local bid, including Toll Stadium.
Whangarei Deputy Mayor Phil Halse said it was great to have the Fifa officials in town and a successful bid would be huge for the district and whole region.
"It will be fantastic. Whangarei won the award for the best regional support campaign for the Rugby World Cup [for Paint it Red] and that's shows just what we can do," Mr Halse said.
"We've made no secret of the fact that we want Whangarei to become a top regional sports centre. We are fully aware of the impact of the Rugby World Cup's [economic benefits to the region] and the Fifa Under-20 World Cup is huge."
Mr Halse said Whangarei had the necessary playing and training facilities and had proved, through hosting events such as the World Rally Championship, that it could handle international sporting events.
RWC 2011 head Martin Snedden said Whangarei's success in hosting its two World Cup games showed it would have no problems hosting matches for the Under-20 World Cup.
Fifa delegates are expected to make a final decision on the host cities in the next two months.