America will get the lion’s share of the matches.
American, Canadian and Mexican markets will find out if their lobbying efforts and money promises are enough for the governing body of soccer, FIFA, to give them some games during the 2026 Men’s World Cup. Twenty-two metropolitan areas want to stage matches during the 48-team tournament. Sixteen American markets are in the running, Arlington, Texas, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Foxboro, Massachusetts, Houston, Inglewood-Los Angeles, Kansas City, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Santa Clara, California and Seattle. The three Canadians candidates are Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver. Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey are the Mexican hopefuls. America’s third largest market, Chicago, didn’t make the cut because local officials and business leaders decided the World Cup was too expensive a proposition for the area. Las Vegas didn’t bother putting in a bid either. It is hard to imagine FIFA turning down Jerry Jones’s Arlington, Texas Cowboys stadium or Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’s facility. Ross has an incentive to land the World Cup. He gets a big bonus from local government officials when he lands a big event because big events allegedly bring in tourists who spend money in the area.
How does an area land the World Cup? It takes money, lots of it. It takes stadiums, lots of them that are mostly paid through public dollars. FIFA visited all of the potential candidates in a series of three tours last fall. FIFA said the purpose of the visits was to hold meetings with a variety of stakeholders, including city and stadium authorities, as well as football clubs and other sports organizations, while covering key topics like venue management, infrastructure, sustainability and commercial, legal and legacy matters. Legacy matters is an interesting area. Sports mega-events such as the World Cup generally leave a legacy of large debt.
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