Destinations Winding Up the Spin Cycle to Host 2026 World Cup Games | Sports Destination Management

Destinations Winding Up the Spin Cycle to Host 2026 World Cup Games

Jan 15, 2022 | By: Michael Popke
Destinations are hoping for World Cup action in 2026 and to keep themselves in the public eye (and with any luck, FIFA’s as well), they have launched publicity campaigns. Photo © Pavel Byrkin |

Members of world soccer’s governing body concluded its tour of 23 potential venues in 22 North American cities vying to be among the 16 host sites for 2026 World Cup games. FIFA officials are expected to announce their final decisions sometime during the first half of 2022;  Reuters is reporting that it will be in April but FIFA hasn’t said anything for certain.

What follows are reports from some of those destinations about how local officials are pursuing a coveted slot in the World Cup lineup:

• Los Angeles: Despite its status as one of the most likely cities to get the nod from FIFA, the Los Angeles World Cup Host Committee has been aggressive in its approach to securing status as a “Super Host City” — with both the Rose Bowl and SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park hosting matches that would include the semifinals and finals, a fan festival and other ancillary World Cup events.

The effort is led by the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC) and includes the Los Angeles Rams, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park, Rose Bowl Stadium, Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and the LA Galaxy. In September, the collective launched its official bid videofeaturing actor Will Ferrell, the LA Galaxy’s Cobi Jones, and narration by one of history’s most iconic broadcasters, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play man Vin Scully. A successful bid would add to the Los Angeles region’s longstanding reputation as one of the nation’s top soccer cities, building on the 1984 Olympic tournament, the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup — which collectively remain the largest-attended FIFA World Cup events in history, according to the Los Angeles World Cup Host Committee

New York/New Jersey: Another likely shoo-in to host 2026 World Cup matches is New York/New Jersey. Members of the NY/NJ Host City Bid Committee are focusing on the region’s commitment to fostering human rights as part of its approach to wooing FIFA. “Sport’s highest calling is to bring people together, and that starts with creating a safe, humane and inclusive environment for players and fans alike. No city in the world takes that mission more seriously than New York,” then New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement in late December.

As part of the committee’s commitment, it released a comprehensive reporthighlighting strides both states have made “to ensure equal access in housing, employment and health care; enhance relations between members of law enforcement and the communities they serve; protect the rights of our immigrant communities against discrimination or exploitation; expand opportunities for voters to play a role in our democratic processes; and support the rights of workers to organize and to earn fair and livable wages.”

Kansas City, Mo.:Officials in Kansas City are leveraging support from youth soccer associations in several Midwestern states and emphasizing the impact hosting World Cup matches will have on the game at the grassroots level. State associations involved include Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and South Dakota. Collectively, those associations represent more than 310,000 players, coaches and referees. “Bringing the FIFA World Cup to our region would have a monumental impact on youth soccer participation,” Mary Jane Bender, executive director of Illinois Youth Soccer, said in a statement.

It also would allow soccer fans located in a considerable chunk of the country an opportunity to attend what is likely a once-in-a-lifetime event. “The engagement from these organizations definitely strengthens our proposal that hosting matches in Kansas City would draw supporters and attendees from across an entire region of the United States,” addedKathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission.

Miami and Orlando, Fla.: In December, the board of directors for Enterprise Florida — the state’s principal economic development organization — approved a $5 million grant to the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau and another $5 million grant to the Greater Orlando Sports Commission to help both cities support security, transportation and other infrastructure needs related to hosting 2026 World Cup games.

“We talk about the impact that having two Super Bowls in two years had on the Florida economy, and this would be the equivalent of having like two Super Bowls in one month, one week, but times like an exponential number,” Holly Borgmann, vice chair of the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors, told Orlando Weekly.“I don’t know the numbers, but this would be a huge way to celebrate our cities and our state on a global scale. It would bring a ton of tourism to the area. And it demonstrates to FIFA the state’s commitment to fund this important tournament.” 

Edmonton, Canada: In November, Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium hosted two crucial FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier matches for the Canadian men’s national team, which city officials say bodes well for Edmonton’s 2026 World Cup bid.

“This is a fantastic boost for the city, and [a] testament to our efforts in attracting and delivering the best and biggest international sports events in the world,” Janelle Janis, director of Edmonton Events, said in a statement. “Following the success of our women’s soccer team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the men’s team is also on a rapid rise, and to be a part of their efforts to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022, is a huge honor that we take very seriously. Here in Edmonton, we have a proud history of hosting and developing soccer at all levels, and continuing this movement remains an important objective going forward. Our next major ambition is naturally to be confirmed as a host city of the FIFA World Cup 2026.”

• Baltimore, Maryland: Maryland's sports commission has created its own Twitter handle, @BaltimoreMD2026, and the organization's website has been following the news of the bid and its progress. Executive director Terry Hasseltine, who has been a part of the bid to host World Cup play at the M&T Bank Stadium, also noted in a recent tweet that the city would be an excellent home for a FIFA headquarters, should it decide to expand to the USA.

Here’s the full list of the destinations and venues under consideration:

United States

• Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

• Baltimore (M&T Bank Stadium)

• Boston (Gillette Stadium)

• Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium)

• Dallas (AT&T Stadium)

• Denver (Empower Filed at Mile High)

• Houston (NRG Stadium)

• Kansas City, Mo. (Arrowhead Stadium)

• Los Angeles (Rose Bowl Stadium or SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park)

• Miami (Hard Rock Stadium)

• Nashville, Tenn. (Nissan Stadium)

• New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)

• Orlando, Fla. (Camping World Stadium)

• Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field)

• San Francisco Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium)

• Seattle (Lumen Field)

• Washington, D.C. (FedExField)


• Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium)

• Toronto (BMO Field)


• Guadalajara (Akron Stadium)

• Mexico City (Azteca Stadium)

• Monterey  (BBVA Bancomer Stadium)

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