The ASBA members who helped bring the U.S. the 17 stadiums currently under consideration for FIFA World Cup action in 2026 are going to have to wait (along with everyone else) to find out whether their facilities will be in the spotlight. Thanks (or no thanks) to COVID-19, the decision-making process is being delayed, delivering one more blow to cities who had been hoping for some good news.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, who also serves as vice-chair of North America’s 2026 men’s World Cup organizing committee, said that the pandemic’s outbreak has played havoc with the original timeline for picking the tournament’s host venues. A mid-March meeting in Dallas of representatives from the 17 competing U.S. cities was cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled. Similar meetings in Mexico and Canada were also cancelled.
FIFA officials were scheduled to perform site inspections on potential venues for practices and competitions in March and April. Those also have been cancelled. It is possible that the dates for a projected second round of tours, in October and November, might be used instead for the original site inspections – but only if the virus is sufficiently under control.
Either way, the announcement will not arrive in early 2021, as it was supposed to.
It now appears a decision would likely be made in the summer or fall of 2021, which is five years out from the World Cup.
All of that, however, is a remote concern at the moment, when cities are scrambling simply to recoup losses from cancelled sports events and conventions that were to take place this spring and summer.
A total of 23 cities across the United States and Mexico are bidding to host games in the 2026 World Cup. Here are the cities in alphabetical order and their stadiums:
- Atlanta: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity 71,000)
- Baltimore: M&T Bank Stadium (71,008)
- Boston/Foxborough: Gillette Stadium (65,892)
- Cincinnati: Paul Brown Stadium (65,515)
- Dallas/Arlington: AT&T Stadium (105,000)
- Denver: Broncos Stadium at Mile High (76,125)
- Houston: NRG Stadium (71,500)
- Kansas City, Missouri: Arrowhead Stadium (76,416)
- Los Angeles/Inglewood/Pasadena: New NFL stadium (80,000, with potential to expand); Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (around 78,500 after renovation); or the Rose Bowl (87,527)
- Miami: Hard Rock Stadium (65,767)
- Nashville: Nissan Stadium (69,143)
- New York/East Rutherford, New Jersey: MetLife Stadium (82,500)
- Orlando: Camping World Stadium (65,000)
- Philadelphia: Lincoln Financial Field (69,328)
- San Francisco/San Jose/Santa Clara: Levi’s Stadium (75,000)
- Seattle: CenturyLink Field (69,000)
- Washington, D.C. (venue is actually in Landover, Maryland): FedEx Field (82,000)
- Edmonton, Alberta: Commonwealth Stadium (56,335)
- Montreal: Olympic Stadium (61,004)
- Toronto: BMO Field (36,000; expansion to 40,000 has been planned)
- Guadalajara: Estadio Chivas (45,364)
- Mexico City: Estadio Azteca (capacity 87,000)
- Monterrey: Estadio BBVA Bancomer (52,237)
The 2026 World Cup is probably the least of FIFA’s worries right now, as the organization is scrambling to reorganize the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.