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United Bid Finalizes List of Stadiums but Much Remains to be Decided

4 Apr, 2018

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Even if Canada/Mexico/USA Bid is Successful, FIFA will Decide on the Final Host Cities

The United Bid Package has been finalized. Let the waiting game begin.

With the world watching (and FIFA’s every move now under scrutiny), the fight to host the 2026 World Cup is on final approach. The United Bid (so called because it takes in Canada, Mexico and the U.S.) has released its list of official candidate cities being considered to host the action. And to say it’s a desirable piece of business is obviously an enormous understatement: officials at the United Bid have estimated that 5.8 million tickets could be sold in 2026, generating $2.1 billion in revenue.

Sports commissions should hold off throwing the confetti just yet, though. While the initial list of 44 cities has been whittled down to 23 (with some cities offering up more than one stadium that could host the action), it’s by no means a certainty that world-class soccer will be on the doorstep. After all, even If the 2026 FIFA World Cup is awarded to the United Bid, FIFA itself is authorized to make the selection of up to 16 host cities from that proposed 23-city slate.

The list of venues currently being considered as part of the bid package and their capacities, as well as the level of sports they are now hosting (mainly NFL stadiums in the U.S.) are as follows:

U.S. Bid Cities (17 total, some with more than one venue that could host action)
Atlanta, GA: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (NFL future) (75,000)
Baltimore, MD: M&T Bank Stadium (NFL)( 71,008)
Boston, MA: (Foxborough) Gillette Stadium (NFL) (65,892)
Cincinnati, OH: Paul Brown Stadium (NFL) (65,515)
Dallas, TX: Cotton Bowl (92,100) and, in Arlington, AT&T Stadium (NFL) (105,000)
Denver, CO: Sports Authority Field at Mile High (NFL) (76,125)
Houston, TX: NRG Stadium (NFL)( 71,500)
Kansas City, MO: Arrowhead Stadium (NFL) (76,416)
Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (NFL) (78,500) and the forthcoming Inglewood facility, the LA Stadium at Hollywood Park (NFL future, capacity TBD), as well as the Pasadena-based Rose Bowl Stadium (87,527)
Miami, FL: Hard Rock Stadium (NFL) (65,767)
Nashville, TN: Nissan Stadium (NFL) (69,143)
New York/New Jersey: (East Rutherford, NJ) MetLife Stadium (NFL) (82,500)
Orlando, FL: Camping World Stadium (65,000)
Philadelphia, PA: Lincoln Financial Field (NFL) (69,328)
San Francisco/San Jose, CA (Santa Clara): Levi's Stadium (NFL) (75,000)
Seattle, WA: CenturyLink Field (NFL) (69,000)
Washington, DC (Landover, MD): FedEx Field (NFL) (82,000)

Canadian Bid Cities (three cities with multiple options for venues):
Edmonton, Alberta: Commonwealth Stadium (56,302)
Montreal: Stade Olympique (61,004) and Stade Saputo (20,801)
Toronto:  Rogers Centre (53,506) and BMO Field (30,000)

Mexican Cities and Venues:
Guadalajara, Jalisco: Estadio Chivas (45,364)
Mexico City: Estadio Azteca (87,000)
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon: Estadio Rayados (52,237)

According to Reuters, FIFA will award the 2026 World Cup at its congress on June 13 of this year, just prior to the event in Russia. The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup and Mexico staged the tournament in 1970 and 1986. In 2015, Canada hosted the Women’s World Cup. All had excellent attendance.

If the United Bid is successful, plans are for Canada to get 10 of the 80 matches. Mexico will be awarded 10 games while 60 will go to the United States.

One of the most advantageous aspects of the United Bid, according to its officials, is that no purpose-built stadiums will be needed.

“Canada, Mexico, and the United States have joined together to deliver a United Bid that offers FIFA and its member associations the power of unity, the promise of certainty, and the potential of extraordinary opportunity,” said John Kristick, Executive Director of the United Bid. “We are confident that the combination of our 23 existing world-class stadiums, 150 existing elite training facilities, and our modern and interconnected transportation network can help FIFA to achieve new records for attendance and revenue which will allow the entire global football community to improve and grow.”

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first tournament to use the expanded 48-team format and will require not just world-class sports venues but excellent infrastructure, including efficient mass transit systems, as well as appropriate hotel space, restaurants and more, to ensure a successful tournament. This is expected to factor into FIFA’s decision-making process when it comes to naming host cities.

But the success of the United Bid is by no means certain, much though the three nations would like to think it is. Recent months have seen the rise in popularity of Morocco as the hostfor 2026, and many have pointed to the political climate of the U.S. as a possible culprit. France recently threw its support behind Morocco’s bid, as has Russia.

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