2026 FIFA World Cup host venue selection


Photo used with permission of Creative Commons

MetLife Stadium, located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the proposed host venue of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Final.

     FIFA will announce the host venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup that will take place in the United States, Mexico and Canada in the first quarter of 2022. It will be the first World Cup to take place in three countries and only the second to be hosted by multiple countries. The 2002 edition of the tournament hosted by South Korea and Japan is the only prior World Cup to take place in multiple countries.

     The host venues in Mexico and Canada have pretty much already been decided. The host cities in Mexico will be Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara. The host cities in Canada will be Toronto and Edmonton with Vancouver possibly joining them after originally selected host city Montreal withdrew from the bidding process. 

     According to the bid book submitted by the United Bid, the official name of the joint bid, 17 venues in the United States are bidding to be one of the 10 host sites in the country to be selected by FIFA for the tournament; this assumes that Vancouver will replace Montreal as one of Canada’s three host cities. 

     Canada and Mexico are scheduled to host 10 games each with the remaining 60 games in the expanded tournament to be hosted by the U.S., including the quarterfinals, semifinals, third place game and final. It will be the first World Cup to feature 48 teams, 16 more than the current format and the tournament will feature 16 more games than the current format. 

     The name of each location will be listed as it is listed on the bid documents, while venue names will be listed by what name it would likely go by during the tournament, as FIFA rules require no corporate sponsor names to be used for venues during the tournament.

     The 10 venues that I would select along with the previously mentioned host cities for Mexico and Canada will be listed after the case is made for each of them. They will have a code listed next to them that corresponds with the proposed match schedule located in the bid book and details what specific games and on what day of the tournament that particular venue would be hosting. 

     I will determine the 10 venues based on a criteria that takes into account geographical location of venues relative to other potential host venues, stadium capacity and amenities, travel considerations, past experience of hosting major soccer matches and tournaments and the cities population and media market ranking.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Atlanta

Venue Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Bid Book Capacity: 65,085

Year Opened: 2017

Tenants: Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Atlanta United FC (MLS)

Atlanta is an obvious choice to host games because of its size as one of the larger metro areas in the country and its location relative to the other potential venues. The stadium is relatively new and is a proposed semi-final host according to the bid book. 



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Baltimore

Venue Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Bid Book Capacity: 63,689

Year Opened: 1998

Tenants: Baltimore Ravens (NFL)

Baltimore could be selected depending on how many east coast venues FIFA wants to select. One advantage that it has compared to its main east coast competitors is that it lies in between two other locations attempting to be chosen.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Boston/Foxborough

Venue Location: Foxborough, Massachusetts

Bid Book Capacity: 60,335

Year Opened: 2002

Tenants: New England Patriots (NFL), New England Revolution (MLS)

Robert Kraft, who owns and operates the venue as well as the Patriots and Revolution, is one of the highest ranking officials of the United Bid committee. This, along with FIFA likely wanting a venue in the New England region, makes Boston likely to be selected. 



Venue: Paul Brown Stadium

Venue Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Bid Book Capacity: 60,294

Year Opened: 2000

Tenants: Cincinnati Bengals (NFL)

Cincinnati is a longshot to be selected for multiple reasons, one being the age of the stadium and FIFA not wanting too many stadiums located in the Eastern Time Zone. Another is the fact that Cincinnati is not as large of a media market as its competitors. According to Sports Media Watch, Cincinnati has the smallest media market among the candidate cities/metro areas.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Dallas/Fort Worth Metro Area

Venue Location: Arlington, Texas

Bid Book Capacity: 80,415

Year Opened: 2009

Tenants: Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

Dallas/Arlington is a proposed semi-final venue and an obvious choice. The Dallas-Fort Worth media market is one of the largest in the country and the venue has a reputation of hosting major events like the Super Bowl, among others.



Venue: Mile High Stadium

Venue Location: Denver, Colorado

Bid Book Capacity: 69,977

Year Opened: 2001

Tenants: Denver Broncos (NFL)

Denver is likely to be selected due to its geographical location. FIFA would likely choose Denver to add a mountain time zone venue to the mix and ensure that the venues are not mostly located on the east and west coast.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Houston

Venue Location: Houston, Texas

Bid Book Capacity: 62,444

Year Opened: 2002

Tenants: Houston Texans (NFL)

Houston is a wildcard in this whole process. Its proximity to Dallas makes it unlikely that FIFA would select it due to not wanting to have two venues in the state of Texas. It is one of the most populated cities in the country, though, which could work in Houston’s favor.


Kansas City

Venue: Arrowhead Stadium

Venue Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Bid Book Capacity: 69,070

Year Opened: 1972

Tenants: Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)

The age of the venue makes it less likely that Kansas City will be selected because FIFA will likely be looking for newer venues with modern amenities. With this said, the location of Kansas City gives it a chance to be selected due to it not being reasonably close to any of the other venues.


Los Angeles

Venue: Rose Bowl Stadium

Venue Location: Pasadena, California

Bid Book Capacity: 76,106

Year Opened: 1922

Tenants: UCLA Bruins (NCAA Football)

This is an easy choice because the Los Angeles metro area is one of the biggest sports markets in the country. Los Angeles/Pasadena is the proposed host for the opening match for the United States.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Miami

Venue Location: Miami Gardens, Florida

Bid Book Capacity: 60,404

Year Opened: 1987

Tenants: Miami Dolphins (NFL), Miami Hurricanes (NCAA Football)

Miami is likely to be selected for many reasons. One reason being Miami and the World Cup just seems to fit with its history of hosting major sporting events. According to ESPN, the Spanish soccer league La Liga has expressed interest in playing games in Miami. The city has also hosted more Super Bowls than any other city. FIFA will also likely want to select at least one of the two potential venues in Florida.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Nashville

Venue Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Bid Book Capacity: 62,498

Year Opened: 1999

Tenants: Tennessee Titans (NFL), Tennessee State University (NCAA Football)

Nashville is starting to become one of the premier sports towns in the country. The success of the local Major League Soccer (MLS) team Nashville SC, who currently play at the proposed venue along with FIFA probably only choosing one Florida venue help Nashville. 


New York/New Jersey

Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Meadowlands

Venue Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Bid Book Capacity: 74,895

Year Opened: 2010

Tenants: New York Giants (NFL), New York Jets (NFL)

New York/New Jersey is the proposed host of the tournament final, making it an obvious choice. The NYC metro area is one of the most populated areas of the world and makes it really easy to select this location as the final host. 



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Orlando

Venue Location: Orlando, Florida

Bid Book Capacity: 58,012

Year Opened: 1936

Tenants: None

Orlando is an interesting candidate to evaluate. With Disney being nearby, it might be believed that Orlando is an obvious selection, when in reality it is not. That is because multiple more favorable options are close to the Orlando area, likely meaning it will not be selected due to its proximity to more favorable venues and locations.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Philadelphia

Venue Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Bid Book Capacity: 62,123

Year Opened: 2003

Tenants: Philadelphia Eagles (NFL), Temple Owls (NCAA Football)

Philadelphia will be competing to be one of three east coast venues likely competing for one spot. It has some advantages and disadvantages compared to the other two competitors for that spot as well as being so close to New York/New Jersey. 


San Francisco Bay Area

Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium San Francisco Bay Area

Venue Location: Santa Clara, California

Bid Book Capacity: 61,198

Year Opened: 2014

Tenants: San Francisco 49ers (NFL)

San Francisco/Santa Clara has the major disadvantage of being in the state of California, which is essentially guaranteed to have a venue selected. The venue also has a bad reputation due to its bad seating design which leads to bad sightlines.



Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Seattle

Venue Location: Seattle, Washington

Bid Book Capacity: 61,812

Year Opened: 2002

Tenants: Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Seattle is an obvious choice because of its location in the Pacific Northwest along with the venue having a long history of hosting soccer matches. That is a key factor that gives Seattle an advantage over most locations whose venues have not hosted as many soccer matches. This would give FIFA another west coast venue in addition to one or both California venues.


Washington D.C.

Venue: 2026 World Cup Stadium Landover

Venue Location: Landover, Maryland

Bid Book Capacity: 60,961

Year Opened: 1997

Tenants: Washington Football Team (NFL)

Washington D.C. looks like an obvious choice on paper, but in reality it is not. Since the venue is located outside of D.C. and has a bad reputation it is likely to be replaced before the 2026 World Cup takes place. This makes Philadelphia and Baltimore more likely to be selected as the third east coast/mid-atlantic venue. 


Predicted Venue Designations

US1: New York/New Jersey

US2: Los Angeles

US3: Baltimore

US4: Miami

US5: Seattle

US6: Boston

US7: Dallas

US8: Nashville

US9: Denver

US10: Atlanta

MEX1: Mexico City

MEX2: Monterrey

MEX3: Guadalajara

CAN1: Toronto

CAN2: Edmonton

CAN3: Vancouver*