On June 16, 2022, FIFA confirmed the 16 host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada, after narrowing down the list from the initial 22 candidates. In the United States: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York / New Jersey, San Francisco and Seattle. In Mexico: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. In Canada: Toronto and Vancouver. 

The 2026 tournament will be the first one to be played with 48 teams, and also marks the first time three countries are selected as World Cup hosts, with a record number of 80 games to be played when the time comes. The host city announcement also ratified the Estadio Azteca as one of world soccer’s most historic venues, as it’ll be the first one to host three World Cups, with the first two being in 1970 with Pele’s Brazil lifting the then-Jules Rimet trophy, and in 1986 with Diego Armando Maradona’s Argentina being declared champions.

The last and only time the United States has hosted a World Cup was back in 1994, when Romario and Dunga’s Brazil beat Italy in a dramatic penalty shootout in front of a packed Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California. As for Canada, they have already hosted a FIFA Women’s World cup in 2015 but have never done so for men. Mexico’s three cities brought forth to the organizing committee were approved, while the United States had six stadiums being denied host status (Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Rowe Bowl in Los Angeles, Nissan Stadium in Nashville and M&T Bank Stadium in Washington/Baltimore), and Canada had Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium left out.

Up next, a guide on each and every host city, with a brief soccer history of the venues that’ll host the 2026 FIFA World Cup: 


Name: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Opened: August 26, 2017
Surface: Turf
Capacity: 42,500 for soccer, expandable to a maximum of 73,000 seats.
Owners: Georgia World Congress Center Authority
Operators: AMB Sports and Entertainment Group
Record attendance: 73,019 for soccer, in the 2018 MLS Cup Final between Atlanta United and Portland Timbers (Atlanta won 2-0).

What works for Mercedes-Benz Stadium is being a fairly new venue, with its inauguration being held in 2017, which means that not many technological advancements will be needed to get ready for 2026. Atlanta United’s home currently boasts a massive 63,000-square feet, 360-degree HD video screen, over 1,800 wireless access points, a three-tier pavilion, an outside space dedicated to tailgating, oversized locker rooms, the iconic retractable roof and much, much more.

Changes required by FIFA for the 2026 World Cup: not many. Even though FIFA hasn’t released an official statement, the Atlanta Journal Constitution stated that the main change the stadium will have to undergo is switching from turf to natural grass.“FIFA will require that sod be installed months before the first World Cup match is played on it in June 2026 so that the grass has ample time to take root”, read the report. 

As for city infrastructure projects, city planning outlet Urbanize stated that Atlanta’s BeltLine loop probably won’t be finished by the time the World Cup Begins. The BeltLine consists of “22 miles of unused railroad tracks circling the core of the city's in-town neighborhoods”, according to Discover Atlanta. 

Reaction from Darren Eales, Atlanta United club president: 

“It’s almost a validation of what our amazing supporters have done in this city… FIFA genuinely recognize that. They couldn’t believe it when they came and visited and a few of their members came to a match and they saw what was happening. That spoke a lot and I think was the intangible that really put Atlanta towards the top of the pile.” 

The 2026 FIFA World Cup calendar won’t be released until mid-2023 but Major League Soccer reports that “local officials contended that Atlanta could host a semifinal match.” 


Venue Name: Gillette Stadium 
Opened: May 11, 2002
Surface: Turf
Capacity: 20,000 for soccer, expandable to a maximum of 68,000 seats. 
Owners: Kraft Group 
Operators: Kraft Group 
Record attendance: 61,316 for local soccer, in the 2002 MLS Cup Final between New England Revolution and Los Angeles Galaxy (Los Angeles won 1-0). 64,121 for international soccer in the June 4, 2011 friendly between Spain and the United States (Spain won 4-0). 

This one is a long time in the making, with New England Revolution and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft being an honorary chair of the 2026 World Cup United Bid Group that won North America the chance to host. FIFA named the host city Boston even though the stadium itself is located in Foxborough, about 30 miles outside of the city. 

Foxborough has a storied soccer past: it hosted the 1994 FIFA Men’s World Cup in the now demolished Foxboro Stadium -which saw over 320,000 people attend the four games it hosted, including Diego Armando Maradona’s final game for Argentina-, and also the 1999 and the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cups (the last one was played in the current venue). 

In 2021, FIFA officials started visiting potential host cities and Gillette was no different. Back then, Kraft hosted FIFA chief tournament and events officer Colin Smith, FIFA vice president and Concacaf president Victor Montagliani and Brian Bilello, president of the New England Revolution and Boston Soccer 2026. 

The plans presented in the visit were the following, per the Boston Globe: removing the current turf surface, rehabilitating the no longer used irrigation system, and installing natural grass. The 2026 FIFA World Cup could bring in up to $500 million to the Boston area, according to NBC, which means making changes to the historic venue could represent a good investment. Kraft allegedly asked for six matches to be held at Gillette, according to the Globe.

Bilello later stated that 2026 is not a stadium event, but “a city event, it’s a statewide event”. Back then, he said, “Making Massachusetts, making Boston ready to host the world is gonna be a big focus. And obviously we'll have a lot of work to do down at the stadium as well and making that stadium ready for the World Cup. We don't know how many games we're gonna get, but we're talking about four or five or six Super Bowls in the span of less than a month”. 

Other than the stadium grass being installed, no other official changes have been finalized, but Smith did say that the stadium will need a bit more space around the pitch to accommodate photographers, cameras and security, as well as adding better conditions for players inside the stadium and in training sites. 

Reaction from Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker: 

“We are thrilled to welcome FIFA World Cup Soccer back to Massachusetts in 2026…The teams and their fans from around the world will be welcomed by the Commonwealth’s restaurants and attractions both in Boston and beyond and we are appreciative of Robert Kraft for his efforts as Honorary Chair of the United Bid to help bring the World Cup back to the United States, as well as the Boston Soccer 2026 Committee for its tireless work to secure Boston as a host city.”


Venue Name: AT&T Stadium
Opened: May 27, 2009 
Surface: Turf
Capacity: 80,000, expandable to 105,000.
Owners: City of Arlington
Operators: Dallas Cowboys
Record attendance: 153,352 people, for Wrestlemania 38 in 2022. 

Another case of FIFA naming the host city differently than the actual city where the games will be taking place, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is located about 20 miles west of downtown Dallas. The venue, owned by the city of Arlington but operated by the Dallas Cowboys, is one of two in Texas that will host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches, along with Houston. 

One of the stadiums that wasn’t picked to be a host city for the upcoming World Cup was the Cotton Bowl, which hosted six 1994 FIFA World Cup matches, including the quarterfinal between Brazil and the Netherlands. The impact the decision FIFA made to grant AT&T Stadium host status will be hugely beneficial for the local economy, with the Dallas Sports Commission projecting around $400 million in revenue for the region. 

In spite of being a world class facility with a 175 foot HD screen, a retractable roof and two 180 foot wide by 120 foot high retractable glass doors, there is one big problem: getting there. Currently, Dallas Area Rapid Transit trains and Trinity Railway Express trains don’t go to the stadium. However, Dallas Sports Commission Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director Monica Paul said that they will use buses and “other services” to get fans to the games. 

"We will look to do something very similar to what we did for the Final Four and college football playoff… And we actually started testing it out during WrestleMania this year”, Paul told FOX News in June 2022. As if hosting World Cup matches weren’t enough, Dallas also bid to host the FIFA International Broadcast Center and the central referee station. 

As for stadium changes, the only major renovation that would take place is on the field. Dan Hunt, who owns FC Dallas and was the Dallas 2026 host city bid chairman, said, “there will be major renovations to occur to get the field in.” 

“I don’t think they will have to do anything so substantial to the stadium itself, but we’re going to have to lift the field up off the floor to get it high enough so you can have a field be long enough and wide enough to meet the standards that FIFA requires”, Hunt added. The reason the field needs to be lifted is because FIFA requires an average size of approximately 105 meters long by 68 meters across. Since the current American football field is smaller, it will need to be raised to accommodate the additional space needed. 

And for the pitch itself, AT&T Stadium currently utilizes the SoftTop System, which is a synthetic turf that resembles natural grass. There has been no official statement on whether that will change or not for 2026, but it is safe to assume only natural grass will be allowed for the World Cup. 

Reaction from Monica Paul, Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director: 

"This is a big day for the city of Dallas. Being named as a host city for FIFA World Cup 2026™ provides a once-in-a generation opportunity to create a legacy for North Texas through the most popular sport in the world… From infrastructure and arts to top-level training facilities and a world-class venue in AT&T Stadium, Dallas offers everything that the committee could have wanted in a host city. It’s incredibly gratifying to be chosen, and we can’t wait to begin preparing for FIFA World Cup 2026.” 


Venue Name: NRG Stadium
Opened: August 24, 2002
Surface: Turf
Capacity: 72,220, expandable to 80,000
Owners: Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation
Operators: ASM Global 
Record attendance: 70,858, in the Argentina vs United States Copa América 2016 semifinals (Argentina won 4-0). 

When the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee sat down together at the Partnership Tower to watch the 2026 FIFA World Cup host city announcement on TV, they probably had a pretty good idea of how it would turn out. The fourth-largest city in the United States and the largest one in Texas was granted host status for 2026, adding to the impressive list of events that have already taken place at NRG Stadium such as two Super Bowls, two Final Fours, the Copa América 2016 and many more. 

Although it opened in 2002, NRG Stadium has undergone several major renovations: in 2008, in 2013 and in 2017. Home to the Houston Texans, the stadium is one of three of the 2026 host cities in the United States to have a retractable roof. It also has two giant 14,549 square foot screens, stadium-wide Wi-Fi, even larger than AT&T’s monstrous one, and over 8,200 club seats and 187 luxury suites.The retractable roof is one of the stadium’s main attractions, since it will allow World Cup games to go on uninterrupted regardless of the weather, 

As part of winning rights to be a host city in 2026, Houston launched a campaign with the United States Soccer Federation to create 30 small pitches around the region, also supporting two grassroots youth soccer programs, according to the Houston Dynamo website. As for improvements, one of the main ones will be regarding transportation to and from the stadium, which is located eight miles south of downtown Houston. 

“Just like with other big events we’ve supported the city and the county in hosting, we will make all necessary adjustments to service to ensure a successful event. We have a good track record from super bowls to RodeoHouston in moving large crowds, and we look forward to collaborating with our regional partners as the event draws near,” Houston Metro’s Deputy Communications Officer Tracy Jackson told NBC Houston Affiliate KPRC2. 

However, one of the main problems isn’t directly related to the stadium itself, since KPRC2 also revealed how crime and “human-trafficking related offenses'' are topics that the hosting committee took into consideration when putting the bid together. One of the areas touched upon in the bid, according to KPRC2, is identifying locations in Houston where illegal sex trade or prostituion happen and working together with local and federal authorities to stop said activities. 

NRG Stadium authorities will probably have to replace the turf with natural grass, as other host cities have pledged to do. 

Reaction from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner: 

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the bid committee and many others. We are honored and excited to be awarded the opportunity to welcome sports fans worldwide to experience the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Houston. Our city’s diverse, community-driven, and innovative standing will deliver a memorable FIFA World Cup experience for the players, fans, and everyone involved. The FIFA World Cup will leave a legacy for the people in this city for generations to come.”

Kansas City 

Venue Name: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
Opened: August 12, 1972
Surface: Natural grass
Capacity: 76,416
Owners: Jackson County Sports Complex Authority
Operators: Kansas City Chiefs
Record attendance: 52,424, in the July 25, 2010 friendly match between Kansas City Wizards and Manchester United (WIzards won 2-1). 

GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium will be a 2026 FIFA World Cup host city. If you would’ve told anyone before the decision was made that the aforementioned sentence would be true, some might have even laughed at you. After all, the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles has a higher capacity and is in a more densely populated metropolitan area, the M&T Bank Stadium in Washington/Baltimore seemed a stronger bid and even Orlando’s Camping World Stadium looked interesting since it had already been a host in 1994. 

But, that didn’t happen. Through the cooperation of Missouri and Kansas authorities, along with Sporting Kansas City, the Kansas City Chiefs and many more, according to Kansas Governor Laura Kelly. “It’s a testament to the depth of the soccer culture in Kansas City, Sporting Kansas City was a founding franchise in Major League Soccer and has been responsible for establishing Kansas City as one of the best soccer cities in the United States”, said Clark Hunt, Chiefs Chairman and CEO. 

Kansas City has the experience to host important sporting events. There have been four World Series and eleven men and women’s Final Four tournaments, but none like the World Cup, an event that could mean an injection of between $160-620 million, according to Boston Consulting Group. There haven’t been many soccer matches at Arrowhead in the past, but there was a key match en route to the 2002 FIFA World Cup between the United States and Costa Rica in 2001, a 2-1 win for the Stars and Stripes. In order for Kansas City to get ready for 2026, they have plenty of work to do, according to their own mayor, Quinton Lucas. 

Lucas said that in order to host the World Cup, GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium will need at least $50 million in improvements, although he didn’t specify which just yet. What Lucas did indicate, according to Chiefswire, is that there will be increased funding for public transportation between the stadium and different spots in the city. And, according to the Kansas City Star, “Seats will be removed from the corners of the lower level of the stadium, and space will also be made for hospitality functions and the seating of scores of international reporters and other media.” 

The stadium, opened in 1972, has already undergone important renovations in the past, including some in 1991, 1994, a $375 million one starting in 2007 and most recently a $13 million one in 2021. The Chiefs’ lease at Arrowhead expires in 2031, which seems to indicate they will be a key part of whatever changes need to take place before the World Cup, as backed up by Hunt’s recent remarks in April 2022. 

“We have nine years left on our lease… We’re very happy in Arrowhead. We still think it’s one of the great venues in the National Football League... We’ve started the process of evaluating whether Arrowhead has a chance of going past the end of this lease. That’s going to be an ongoing process over the next couple of years,” stated Hunt. 

Reaction from Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback: 

“The city is going show out in 2026…We can’t wait to welcome fans from across the globe to the heart of America and the world’s loudest stadium.”

Los Angeles

Venue Name: SoFi Stadium
Opened: September 8, 2020
Surface: Turf
Capacity: 70,240 expandable to 100,240
Owners: StadCo LA, LLC.
Hollywood Park Land Company, LLC.
Operators: StadCo LA, LLC

There was little doubt in the soccer media and community that SoFi Stadium would be elected as a 2026 FIFA World Cup host city. After all, the estimated $5 billion project is less than two years old and has already shown the capacity to host hugely important events such as the Super Bowl, with others such as the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship and the 2028 Summer Olympics already confirmed and in the pipeline. 

After all, just look at the stadium specs. The possibility of expanding to an additional 30,000 seats, the one-million square foot canopy, the double-sided 4K HDR video board that weighs 2.2 million pounds, displays 80 million pixels and includes the speaker system and 56 5G wireless antennas; it’s just a dream. Not to mention the aesthetically pleasing design, SoFi stadium has even been slated as a possible host for the 2026 FIFA World Cup final, something that Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca will adamantly oppose for obvious reasons. 

As for renovations, there isn’t much that needs to be renewed in a fairly new stadium, but there are two main issues. The first one is that the stadium has open sides, meaning that thunder delays are a possibility, as exhibited in the Los Angeles Chargers vs Las Vegas Raiders NFL Game in October 2021. The second is the size of the field. As mentioned previously in this article, FIFA has specific dimensions of approximately 105 meters long by 68 meters across, and the length of SoFi’s field would need to be extended by approximately 20 meters, according to Front Office Sports. 

Whether they will raise the field like at AT&T Stadium or come up with a different arrangement is yet to be seen, but it is hard to believe that if billionaire owner Stan Kroenke already forked over an insane amount of money for the $5 billion project, that he won’t do so again to get ready for the world’s biggest stage. Now, with the Rose Bowl Stadium out of contention to be a host city, SoFi ownership will need to step their game up if they don’t want FIFA to come knocking. And, as all the other stadiums with turf surfaces, they will need to change to grass before 2026. 

Reaction from Gianni Infantino, FIFA president:

"By 2026 soccer or football will be the number one sport in this part of the world (U.S.).”


Venue Name: Hard Rock Stadium
Opened: August 16, 1987
Surface: Natural Grass 
Capacity: 65,000
Owners: Stephen M. Ross
Operators: Palace Entertainment 
Record attendance: 80,120, for the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. 

In spite of being over 30 years old, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami seems to be ready to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, ever since its inception. When it opened in 1987, then-Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie had already built the venue to fit FIFA stadium and field specifications. And now, current Dolphins owner Stephen Ross undertook the $350 million renovation project in 2015 that included giant video boards, premiere suites and an open-air canopy to provide shading for fans.

The grass field is already up to FIFA specifications and has hosted massive soccer games in the past, including a 2017 El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which was the highest grossing soccer match in North American history, according to CBS News. Not to mention the other huge events held at Hard Rock, including six Super Bowls, the Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Miami Open and several highly popular concerts. And, being awarded host status for 2026 seems like long overdue justice for a stadium that missed out on the 1994 FIFA World Cup due to a scheduling conflict with the Florida Marlins. 

One would think that with Miami Freedom Park being approved, the 25,000 Inter Miami soccer-specific stadium to be built near Miami International Airport would be considered as a potential host but that honor was awarded to Hard Rock. However, Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas has stated that said decision will be beneficial for all of Miami. "What great momentum. Having Miami Freedom Park approved in April. It goes to building infrastructure and an ecosystem for the sport to grow here," said Mas. 

There are several pros to Miami being a host city other than just the stadium itself, since the metropolitan area can simultaneously host several national teams at facilities such as Florida International University, Barry University, Miami Freedom Park, and Inter Miami’s current home at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, about 40 minutes north of downtown Miami. And, Miami-Dade Mayor Danielle Levine Cava has already stated that there will be jobs and investment opportunities that will eventually be a long-term benefit for the community. So, what’s the catch? Getting to the stadium is a big one. 

Right now, there are two ways to get to Hard Rock from downtown Miami, and both are fairly uncomfortable for fans. One is public transportation, but that takes over an hour to travel the 14 miles between destinations. The other is an estimated 25 minute drive without traffic but up to 50 minutes or an hour with traffic, which would definitely take place during the World Cup. But even if you do drive, parking is a huge issue. For the recent Miami Formula 1 Grand Prix, even fans that purchased tickets worth thousands of dollars had to purchase additional parking in lots 20-30 minutes away from the stadium, and then take a shuttle to Hard Rock. The grass field might not be a change needed, but if people can’t get to the event location, you have a severe problem on your hands. 

Reaction from City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez: 

“It felt like we already played a game and won the championship… It’s in our blood. It’s who we are. It’s our DNA.” 

New York/New Jersey

Venue Name: MetLife Stadium
Opened: April 10, 2010 
Surface: Turf
Capacity: 82,500
Owners: New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority
Operators: MetLife Stadium Company 
Record attendance: 82,529 for the XLVIII Super Bowl on February 2, 2014

The New York / New Jersey area has a bright and storied soccer past, going back to the days of the New York Cosmos when Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer graced the North American Soccer League. Nowadays, the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC are in charge of the local soccer culture, with one playing in its own soccer-specific stadium and the other with plans to build one. That’s why when MetLife Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey was announced as a host city for the 2026 World Cup, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy led the celebrations that included players, fans, and the lighting up of the iconic Empire State Building. 

This will be the second time a World Cup comes to New York. In the 1994 tournament, seven games were played in Giants Stadium, including the semifinal match between Italy and Bulgaria in which Roberto Baggio scored a double to help the Azzurra reach the final with a 2-1 win. As for the proposed training facilities for 2026, the City of New York provided the following list: Rutgers University, The Pingry School, Kean University, Red Bull Football Club Training Facility, and the New York City Football Club Training Facility. New York/New Jersey will also host several FIFA Fan Fests, as will every other city in 2026. 

We’ve already gone over how beneficial hosting can be for a city’s economy, and Adams stated that doing so will bring in an estimated $200 million dollars in revenues spread across the five boroughs in New York City even though games will be played in New Jersey. “We are honored to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup with our neighbors across the Hudson, and we are fully prepared to deliver the world-class experience that the beautiful game deserves,” stated Murphy. 

There are several pros to the New York/New Jersey region: they have five airports, an extensive subway system, and several other options of transportation, including ferries and freeways. Also, the City of New York pointed out that, “more hotels are currently being built in the region than exist overall in the other candidate cities.” MetLife is also adapted to fully approved FIFA international matches, which works by retracting seats at field level in order to fit in a full soccer pitch. Several important soccer matches have taken place in the stadium, but the most famous one is without a doubt the 2016 Copa America Centenario final between Argentina and Chile, which Chile won 4-2 on penalties.

Reaction from New York City Mayor Eric Adams:

“The biggest sporting event in the world is coming to the biggest stage, and New York City cannot wait to welcome the world to our region… New York City is thrilled to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, bringing the drama and excitement here to the city that never sleeps!”


Venue Name: Lincoln Financial Field 
Opened: August 3, 2003 
Surface: Natural grass
Capacity: 70,000
Owners: The City of Philadelphia
Operators: Philadelphia Eagles 

When Jeffrey Lurie bought the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994, he said that, “constructing a state-of-the-art stadium would be a key component in the effort to build the Eagles into an elite NFL franchise”, according to the team website. Nine years later, Manchester United and Barcelona played in the stadium’s first-ever sporting event, with nearly 70,000 people in attendance. It’s only fitting that a soccer match was the first game played in a stadium that 23 years later will welcome the 2026 FIFA World Cup. 

Lovingly referred to as “The Linc”, the home of the Philadelphia Eagles uses natural grass and has already hosted important soccer events, such as the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Concacaf Gold Cup, the Copa America Centenario and several national team and club friendly matches. This is a key aspect of why FIFA chose Philadelphia to host in 2026, according to Mayor Jim Kenney, who told NBC Philadelphia, “They (FIFA) were actually commenting on the condition of that field, that grass, when they were walking around looking at the field. It's a beautiful facility.” 

Besides the field, Lincoln Financial Field holds the ISO 20121 certification, which is an important sustainability designation given to the stadium for operating 100% on clean energy due to the 11,000 solar panels installed around the facility. Another point going for “The Linc” is its location, according to the Philadelphia Soccer 2026 bid team. 

“Travelers can hop on Interstate 95 anywhere along the East Coast to get to Lincoln Financial Field. For those looking to catch another game of the tournament, I-95 will also take them north to East Rutherford, where games will also be played as part of the New York/New Jersey bid. Those making their way to Philadelphia from the west can hop on Interstate 76”, they told NBC. And, for those attending the game via car, there are 22,000 parking spaces on-site, in addition to the multiple public transportation access points. 

Meg Kane, manager of bid operations for Philadelphia Soccer 2026, said hotel accommodations, public transportation, restaurants and the passion Philadelphia can provide was key for FIFA to grant “The City of Brotherly Love” the chance to host a World Cup. 

Kane added the total possible revenue for the city could be up to $250 million, while president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau Gregg Caren said the impact could be even bigger. “This is bigger than two or three Super Bowls together,” Caren said. “This means $460 million of economic impact. What does that mean? Jobs, hotels full, restaurants full, tax revenue for the city, it’s great for everybody that lives and works in this great city of ours,” he also told NBC. 

Even though it opened in 2003, Lincoln Financial Field underwent an important renovation in 2014-15 that included new HD video boards, LED ribbon boards and bridges connecting the upper concourse, as well as high-speed Wi-Fi around the premise. 

Reaction from Meg Kane, manager of bid operations for Philadelphia Soccer 2026: 

“We’ll also be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the United States, the Major League All-Star Game will be here, so this will be a major opportunity for Philadelphia to have tourism and hospitality really bounce back in a post-COVID environment.” 

San Francisco Bay Area

Venue Name: Levi’s Stadium
Opened: July 7, 2014
Surface: Natural grass
Capacity: 68,500
Owners: City of Santa Clara
Operators: Santa Clara Stadium Authority
Record attendance: 79,976 for Wrestlemania 31 on March 2015

The estimated $1.3 billion spent on San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium is paying off, and even more since it was announced as one of the 16 stadiums hosting 2026 FIFA World Cup games. Although neighboring San José has greater soccer history, the first-ever match to be played in the home of the San Francisco 49ers was the Major League Soccer regular season game between the San José Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders; a 1-0 home win in front of nearly 50,000 people. And now, a World Cup is coming back to the Bay Area. 

The first time that happened was in 1994, when Stanford Stadium hosted six games of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, including the quarterfinal match between Sweden and Romania, in which Sweden progressed to the semifinals after a 2-2 tie and a 5-4 victory in penalty kicks. Furthermore, the home of the Stanford Cardinal also saw the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup up close, but on that occasion only hosting the semifinal between the United States and Brazil, which the Stars and Stripes won 2-0. 

The venue itself is world class, covering 1.85 million square feet, nearly 70,000 seats, 165 luxury suites and 8,500 club seats, according to the stadium website. The stadium also includes a 27,000 square foot green roof on top of the suite tower, two giant 890 square meter screens, and three solar bridges that connect the main parking area to the stadium for extra comfort. Levi’s Stadium was granted the prestigious LEED Gold Certification for sustainability, since it uses recycled water, flushing devices, the aforementioned cooling roof and special landscape irrigation.

Patricia Ernstrom, Bay Area Host Committee Executive Director, echoed the excitement of her fellow committee members when they found out they would host the 2026 tournament. “We are absolutely thrilled to bring the world’s largest sporting event to our passionate and diverse Bay Area community. While we will celebrate today, tomorrow marks the beginning of a long and fulfilling road to our first FIFA World Cup match in 2026,” she said. The tournament is expected to bring in millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the Bay Area, according to the San José Earthquakes.

But what of the improvements needed? The stadium has already hosted massive soccer events in the past, including MLS Regular Season games, the Copa America Centenario, and the Concacaf Gold Cup, among others. Its grass surface and the ability to adapt to elite soccer matches should pose no problem heading into 2026. The San Francisco Chronicle did indicate that, “Beyond lawmakers cutting sales taxes, millions more will have to be spent on arena renovations in preparation for 2026,” but they didn’t specify what part of the arena needs renovating and it’s not overtly clear looking at its specifications. 

As for local transportation, that should pose no problem whatsoever for the World Cup. Here’s how Levi’s Stadium explains its accomodations: “For visitors driving, the stadium is located near several major highways and expressways including Highways 101, 237, 880, as well as the Lawrence Expressway and San Tomas Expressway. The stadium is also conveniently located near several public transportation routes including Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail and bus lines, ACE/Capitol Corridor heavy rail, and even connects to Caltrain for direct access to San Francisco.” 

Reaction from Brandi Chastain, U.S. soccer legend: 

"I look forward to our community being the best community, embracing every single team of every single language of every single culture and letting them know that they belong and they are welcome here." 


Venue Name: Lumen Field 
Opened: July 28, 2002
Surface: Turf 
Capacity: 37,722 for soccer, expandable to 68,740 
Owners: Washington State Public Stadium Authority
Operators: First & Goal Inc.
Record attendance: 69,274 for the Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC game on November 10, 2019 

It was 1997, and Washington voters had just approved funding for the $430 million complex that would eventually become what is today known as Lumen Field. Lumen Field's authorizing statute even explicitly states that it was built to host the FIFA World Cup. 24 years after construction finished, the authorizing statute became a reality and Seattle was declared as a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The fervent soccer town rejoiced with the announcement, one most definitely deserved if merit were measured by passion. 

After all, sellouts at Sounders games are fairly commonplace, and they recently broke the record for the largest standalone crowd in Concacaf Champions League history with 68,741 fans for the big final win against Pumas UNAM, according to MLS. Lumen Field is used to hosting competitive local soccer, but also monster international games. Three Copa America Centenario games were played there in 2016, a United States World Cup qualifier against Panama, and even friendly matches including the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea. 

According to Beth Knox, President & CEO for the Seattle Sports Commission and SEA 2026 Bid Committee Co-Chair, the announcement declaring Seattle a host city has been a long time coming. Our city has been preparing for this moment for over a decade, laying the groundwork with previous FIFA bids. The announcement marks the end of a five-year, labor of love journey in communicating to FIFA what we knew from the very beginning: we are ready to host the FIFA World Cup 2026”, Knox stated to Breaking Travel News. 

Lumen Field currently has a 98% waste diversion program and has committed to a net-zero carbon footprint to align with Seattle’s World Cup bid. As for upgrades, the stadium has published on their website that they will install natural grass natively (not over turf), expand video boards, improve Wi-Fi, and enhance food and beverage options. “We have developed plans to accommodate the stadium modifications to the venue and will work with FIFA and the local organizing committee to execute what is needed”, reads the website. 

Tammy Blount-Canavan, President & CEO at Visit Seattle, stated the announcement to be a host city was one of the most significant moments in Seattle history, and will help to cement their spot as “an all-time great international sports destination.” The hospitality industry in Seattle awaits thousands of visitors, and if the city receives the estimated four to six games for 2026, they will need all the help they can get. 

But, President of the Seahawks and First & Goal, Inc Chuck Arnold has expressed confidence in doing so. "Lumen Field was truly built for this, and we can't wait to show fans from around the globe the electric, energizing atmosphere our stadium is known for. We are grateful to FIFA for recognizing Lumen Field as one of North America's most premier sports and entertainment venues and entrusting us to host such a prestigious international event”, stated Arnold. 

Reaction from Seattle Sounders FC and SEA 2026 Chair Adrian Hanauer: 

“This is perhaps the biggest day for the sport of soccer in the history of our region…To be awarded the FIFA World Cup is not only momentous for the city of Seattle, but for all of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.”


Venue Name: Estadio Akron
Opened: July 30, 2010
Surface: Natural grass
Capacity: 48,000
Owners: Club Deportivo Guadalajara
Operators: Operadora Chivas, S.A. de C.V. 

When late owner Jorge Vergara inaugurated Estadio Akron in an impressive ceremony in 2010 that included a friendly between Chivas and Manchester United in front of a packed house, he was able to see the fruit of years of hard work and politics come true. In what would end up being Javier Hernandez’s last match with Chivas (playing one half for each team), a 16 year journey began that culminated in being named a 2026 FIFA World Cup host venue, and in one of Vergara’s dreams coming true. 

“For me, and as I’ve mentioned in my many roles at Chivas, this is only the continuation of an original plan. My father (Jorge) always envisioned a World Cup at the Estadio Akron”, said Amaury Vergara, current Club Deportivo Guadalajara president, in a recent press conference. Even though his father Jorge, who passed away in 2019, won’t be present to see the match or matches that will take place at the Akron, Vergara has always insisted renovations would be needed to host important events. One of the changes suggested will be renaming the stadium.

Even though most stadiums nowadays are named after major sponsors, such as Akron, FIFA World Cup venues are not permitted to carry commercial names during the tournament. That is why the current Chivas owner suggested a change to “Jorge Vergara Stadium” during the 2026 event to honor his father and comply with FIFA. As for other changes, in 2020 Vergara said that the club would need to heavily invest in order to be considered successful World Cup hosts, but only mentioned improving technology for fan comfort without going into details.

The 48,000 venue is one of Mexico’s newest stadiums and a contested choice to be named one of Latin America’s most beautiful arenas. First, the outside structure resembles an active volcano, and is covered entirely by green grass. The wide concourse inside the stadium allows fans to never miss a moment of the action, and in a rare sighting for any stadium in Latin America, there aren’t any barbed wires or fences to prevent fans from jumping onto the pitch. Wide food and beverage options available in all five levels of the structure provide fans a great game day experience. As for the pitch, the Akron originally sported a turf surface but has had natural grass for years. 

Home to one of Mexico’s most popular teams in Chivas, one of Mexico’s host stadiums for 2026 has already seen its fair share of elite international action. Pan American games, Concacaf Champions League, Olympic qualifiers, Copa Libertadores, the 2011 U-17 World Cup and Men’s and Women’s Liga MX matches have all been played at the modern stadium, but there is one main problem: access. If you have ever been to the Akron, and even stadium authorities have recognized this in the past, you know just how difficult it is to actually get to the stadium once it’s close to game time. The stadium itself is located in Zapopan, right outside of Guadalajara. Zapopan Mayor Juan José Frangie recently indicated that the only main construction project that will need to take place before 2026 will be an overpass, paid for by the Jalisco state government that connects Aviación and Vallarta, two of the streets next to the stadium that aren’t currently connected, which causes a bottleneck and heaps of traffic.

Reaction from Enrique Alfaro, Jalisco Governor: 

"Everbody prepared themselves conciously to face the challenge of beinge evaluated by FIFA. This announcement is proof that we did the right thing and what's necessary to be considered (to be hosts) along with Monterrey and Mexico City." 

Mexico City

Venue Name: Estadio Azteca
Opened: May 29, 1966
Surface: Natural grass
Capacity: 87,500
Owners: Televisa Univision Mexico
Operators: Club América 
Record attendance: 132,247, for the Julio César Chávez vs Greg Haugen fight in 1993. 

What else is there to say about the Estadio Azteca that hasn’t already been said? One of world soccer’s most historic venues, the Coloso de Santa Úrsula has hosted basically every footballing event there is, including Summer Olympics, a Women’s World Cup, Pan American Games, two Gold Cups, a U-17 World Cup and the memorable 1970 and 1986 FIFA World Cups. The venue where Pelé and Diego Armando Maradona lifted the Jules Rimet and the World Cup trophy, respectively, the Azteca was a lock as one of the stadiums that would be picked for the 2026 FIFA World Cup due to its historic nature, and will become the first in history to host three World Cups.

The story began in 1962, when 180,000 tons of rock, 100,000 tons of concrete and 1,200 tons of steel were brought to the site where six years later, Club América and Torino inaugurated the venue with a friendly on May 29. The first goal scored at the stadium, courtesy of America player Arlindo dos Santos, will always be remembered at a place where historic goals are a dime a dozen. How about Pele’s leaping header to open the scoring in the 1970 final against Italy, when Brazil went on to win 4-1? Or Maradona’s historic run against England in the 1986 semi-finals, or his Hand of God in the same match? Not to mention Cuauhtémoc Blanco’s speedy run and finish against Brazil in the 1999 Confederations Cup final or Giovani Casillas’ strike in the 2011 U-17 World Cup Final that gave Mexico the trophy in front of an ecstatic home crowd.

The Estadio Azteca is owned and operated by the Azcárraga family, who own Club America. Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, commonly referred to as “The Tiger”, used to own television giant Televisa in the 50s, bought Club America in 1959 and spearheaded the construction of the Estadio Azteca. And now, his son Emilio is at the helm of both the team and the stadium. “Evidently, as part of the Azcárraga family, I’m very proud to have been a part of this stadium’s construction… Proud that the stadium has all these stories, all these unrivaled events we’ve seen since 1966, and obviously the world’s greatest party that will come here in 2026”, Azcárraga said recently.

In terms of renovations, Mexican Football Federation President Yon de Luisa stated that at least $150 million will be needed to get Mexico’s home field ready for 2026. Details to be fixed include redoing the Eastern tribune to return to open seating and increase capacity by 5,000, as well as infrastructure upgrades throughout, such as improving Wi-Fi signal, redoing the bathrooms and including better accessibility options. 

This will be the eight time Estadio Azteca undergoes renovations, with previous ones being done in 1985, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2016 and 2020. “Every adjustment that has to take place is privately funded”, De Luisa added, and explained Mexico will likely only host group stage matches, with second round games going exclusively to the United States. Additionally, there is a plan to remodel the exterior part of the stadium, and to build a massive complex next to it that would include a seven-story parking lot, a hotel, and a mall, but that is yet to be approved by local government due to the disturbance it would cause neighbors in the area. 

Reaction from Emilio Azcárraga, Club América and Estadio Azteca owner: 

“I’ve had the chance to see plenty of stadiums around the world, what’s important is that they need to have a heart and soul, and history. Not only will the Estadio Azteca be the most modern stadium, but it’ll have what I have just described”. 


Venue Name: Estadio BBVA
Opened: August 2, 2015 
Surface: Natural grass
Capacity: 53,500 
Owners: FEMSA
Operators: FEMSA

Less than seven years after the Estadio BBVA opened its doors, authorities from the Mexican state of Nuevo León, and from Monterrey, Guadalupe and Santiago, all gathered at the stadium with the Club de Futbol Monterrey high management, to enjoy the online broadcast in which FIFA chose announced the 2026 FIFA World Cup host cities. Everyone erupted in joy as they found out that Monterey would once again be hosting World Cup matches. 

The first time that happened was in 1986, at the Estadio Universitario (home to Tigres) and the old Estadio Tecnológico (home to Monterrey). On that occasion, eight games were played in the city, with the infamous Mexico vs West Germany penalty shootout and elimination for the home side taking place at Rayados’ old home. The state-of-the-art stadium is fairly new, with its famous steel façade and the notorious view of the Cerro de la Silla already one of the staples in Latin American soccer. The “Steel Giant” is certified for its sustainability practices and has played host to the Concacaf W championship, Liga MX men’s and women’s games, and Concacaf Champions League games and finals. 

As for improvements, Monterrey’s management has already pointed out what needs to be changed ahead of 2026. Pedro Esquivel, the team’s vice president, stated there are three main aspects that FIFA required from the stadium in order to be ready for the World Cup. The first one is to install a ventilation system for the pitch, although it isn’t clear whether or not that’ll be underground. The second is expanding the current press area to accommodate more journalists and media. The third one is also expanding the stadium’s VIP area so more of football and society’s elite can fit comfortably. 

Anyone who has been to the BBVA can testify how incredibly hot it gets inside the stadium during games, but Esquivel made no mention of installing air conditioning systems or alternate solutions, but did mention that he expects the stadium to host three games in 2026. “They’re small processes that we’ll begin in 2023 and we’ll be working on during the next three years. Work on the press room and VIP area is planned between 2024 and 2024, the field will possibly begin in 2023”, he said. 

Reaction from José González Ornelas, President of the Club de Futbol Monterrey Administrative Council: 

“We are hugely satisfied that our stadium was picked to bring the joy and magic of world soccer’s premium event to, for one reason or another, have not been able to enjoy this party, so they can experience the games and the party represented by a World Cup.” 


Venue Name: BMO Field 
Opened: April 28, 2007
Surface: Hybrid grass
Capacity: 28,000
Owners: City of Toronto
Operators: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
Record attendance: 40,148  for the NHL Centennial Classic in 2017. 

Canada has had some year. First, the Men’s national team qualifies to the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Then, Toronto and Vancouver were elected as 2026 FIFA World Cup host cities, leaving Edmonton in the dust. The main problem with Edmonton was that the Alberta government approved $110 million in funding for the bid but only if they could host at least five games, which is way more than what FIFA allegedly is thinking for Canadian cities. But, we’re here to talk about the cities that did get picked. 

Canada has its fair share of international soccer experience, already hosting the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the 2022 FIFA U-19 final, but the Men’s World Cup is a whole new level. That is why extensive work will need to be done at Toronto FC’s home to get ready for 2026. You might’ve noticed that the capacity of 28,000 is way lower than FIFA’s 45,000 minimum to be a host stadium, but there are already plans to remedy that.

BMO Field will need to increase capacity by an estimated 18,000, and will do so by adding new seats on the north and south sides, according to Toronto’s CTV News. This won’t be the first renovation in stadium history, even though it’s only 15 years old, with the first one being a $120 million investment to add seats and canopies back in 2014. CTV News estimates that it will cost Toronto approximately $290 million to host the tournaments, citing construction of training facilities and other events in the budget, two thirds of which Queen’s Park and the federal government are expected to pay for. Revenue is estimated to be around $310 million. 

Another issue with BMO Field is accessibility, with travel outlet BlogTO pointing out that even though the stadium is walking distance to downtown Toronto, it “sits in a windswept parking lot with poor pedestrian access, built on a site better suited for high-speed car racing than an afternoon stroll”. Furthermore, urbanism-focused Twitter account Pushing The Needle ranked every World Cup host city and Toronto got the worst grade of them all, calling it an “unwalkable hellscape”

Nick Bontis, Canada Soccer President, said that the competition to be elected host cities was the most robust in history. “Today's success is a testament to the cities, provinces, and federal government's commitment and dedication in pursuit of hosting the most prestigious single sporting event in the world. In offering our congratulations to both Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia, we also extend our sincere appreciation to Edmonton, Alberta for their historical support and strong interest in contributing to the growth and development of our game in this country through the hosting of FIFA competitions”, he added. 

Reaction from Jonathan Osorio, Canadian soccer player: 

“It’s amazing that the World Cup is finally coming to Canada,” said TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio, Canada’s representative in Manhattan. “It’s something as kids it was hard to even dream of.”


Venue Name: BC Place 
Opened: June 19, 1983
Surface: Turf 
Capacity: 22,120, expandable to 54,400 
Owners: Province of British Columbia 
Operators: BC Pavilion Corporation

Last but not least: Vancouver. BC Place was founded in 1983 and has a capacity of 22,120 in its lower bowl, but can open up and expand to 54,400, which is what will likely happen during the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The elite tournament will visit Canadian soil for the first time in history, and Premier John Hogan expressed how passionate British Columbians are about the sport, and the effect it will have on the tourism sector, and how it will be able to impact future generations of Canadian players. 

British Columbia welcomes the world for FIFA World Cup 2026… We’re not hosting the largest ever World Cup just for kicks. British Columbians will enjoy an economic boost to the tourism and hospitality sectors that will be felt for years to come. We look forward to welcoming the global soccer community to our province”, stated Hogan. 

BC Place has a huge retractable roof, and unlike BMO Field, capacity is no problem for BC Place. And also unlike BMO Field, BC Place does not have a natural grass surface. You probably remember the scandal back in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, played at BC Place, when players complained about the turf surface due to how much more common injuries are when playing on said surface. FIFA “heard” their complaints but did nothing and the tournament went underway regardless. But that will change for 2026, with one of the main requirements for pitches to be approved being the use of natural grass. 

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation estimates that the city of Vancouver will incur in costs of between $240 million and $260 million. The British Columbia Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport indicates that municipal, provincial and federal government would cover the expenditure to get ready for 2026, with “up to 35%” being covered by the federal government. As for revenue, Destination BC and BC stats reported that hosting World Cup games would result in approximately $1 billion during the event and in the following five years. 

Training sites will be located close to the players' hotels, which according to the CBC will be in downtown Vancouver, with an estimated two or three new sites needing to be built in preparation for soccer’s biggest stage. 

Reaction from FIFA President Gianni Infantino:

“It’s very special to bring the World Cup to Canada. It will be the greatest celebration Canada has ever witnessed. Trust me,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino in New York, teasing the hyperbole we can expect between now and 2026. “I think this part of the world doesn’t realize what will happen here in 2026. The world will be invading Canada, Mexico and the United States.”