As the U.S. national team prepares for a pair of do-or-die World Cup qualifiers over the next week, the U.S. Soccer Federation—in conjunction with counterparts in Canada and Mexico—continues to refine its bid to host the quadrennial tournament in 2026.
They are proposing to stage the first 48-team World Cup in all three countries and on Wednesday afternoon, the United Bid Committee unveiled a list of 32 cities in contention to host matches. A total of 41 markets in the USA (32), Mexico (three) and Canada (six) officially expressed interest last month. Nine then were eliminated by the host committee.
Those nine are: Birmingham, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and San Antonio in the USA; and Ottawa and Regina in Canada.
"We have more than double the number of cities required to stage matches in 2026. We have a vision for growing the game and engaging fans as never before. Our biggest challenge will be finding ways to honor the enthusiasm of all the people across Canada, Mexico and the United States through the development of our united hosting concept,” USSF president and UBC chairman Sunil Gulati said.
The nine eliminated markets, as well as those that didn’t apply at all, could be the site of team base camps or other tournament-related facilities, the UBC said. Meanwhile, representatives from the 32 candidate cities will meet with UBC officials next month in Houston as work on the bid and the required documents continues.
The 32 potential hosts are:
Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
Baltimore (M&T Bank Stadium)
Boston/Foxborough (Gillette Stadium)
Charlotte (Bank of America Stadium)
Chicago (Soldier Field)
Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium)
Dallas/Arlington (Cotton Bowl and/or AT&T Stadium)
Denver (Sports Authority Field at Mile High)
Detroit (Ford Field)
Houston (NRG Stadium)
KansasCity (Arrowhead Stadium)
LasVegas (new Raiders stadium)
Los Angeles (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Rose Bowl and/or the new Hollywood Park NFL stadium)
Miami (Hard Rock Stadium)
Minneapolis (US Bank Stadium)
Nashville (Nissan Stadium)
New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)
Orlando (Camping World Stadium)
Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field)
Phoenix/Glendale (University of Phoenix Stadium)
Salt Lake City (Rice-Eccles Stadium)
San Francisco Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium)
Seattle (CenturyLink Field)
Tampa (Raymond James Stadium)
Washington D.C./Landover (FedEx Field)
Edmonton (Commonwealth Stadium)
Montreal (Stade Olympique)
Toronto (BMO Field)
Vancouver (BC Place)
Guadalajara (Estadio Chivas)
Mexico City (Estadio Azteca)
Monterrey (Estadio Rayados)
“Each of the 32 potential host cities features existing or already planned stadiums and other world-class infrastructure, meeting or exceeding the requirements outlined by FIFA,” the UBC said.
The committee originally contacted 44 markets and asked for expressions of interest. San Diego, Green Bay and Calgary opted not to bid at that time. The UBC’s official 2026 bid package is due to FIFA on March 16, 2018. Morocco also is vying to host the competition. If the North American proposal is chosen, the USA likely will host 60 games—including knockout matches from the quarterfinals on—while Mexico and Canada split the remaining 20.
FIFA is expected to make its decision next June.
“If the United Bid is selected to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, subject to FIFA’s determination, it’s expected that at least 12 locations could ultimately serve as official host cities,” the UBC said last month.
The race to stage the 2030 World Cup also began in earnest on Wednesday as officials in Buenos Aires confirmed that Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will apply to host the centennial tournament together. The 1930 World Cup was hosted and won by Uruguay, which defeated Argentina in the final in Montevideo.