After five years of lobbying FIFA to bring the World Cup to Dallas-Fort Worth, it’s finally set in stone: North Texas will host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Dan Hunt, FC Dallas president and chair of the Dallas Host Committee, could not be more bullish on the impact of the event.
“We’re amidst the greatest nine-year period in soccer history,” Hunt said. “The National Women’s Soccer League is growing, Major League Soccer still has expansion [possibilities], the new Apple TV deal is transformative for the MLS, and by the time the 2026 World Cup rolls around, the United States Men’s National Team will be the best we’ve ever produced. The entire economic picture will change.”
With the highly coveted semi-final and championship match still up in the air, officials with the Dallas Host Committee—including Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director Monica Paul, who Hunt calls “the secret ingredient”—will soon travel to New York to convince FIFA that the most important matches should come to DFW.
“The quality of the Dallas bid is undeniable,” Hunt said. “But we’re looking to host six matches—we could get more—and we competed to do this in order to get the final.”
Officials project the tournament will make an economic impact in the billions throughout North America. In 2018, the Russia-hosted World Cup reportedly infused more than $14 billion into the country’s economy.
Forty-eight teams will play 60 matches stateside, and 20 more matches are scheduled in Canada and Mexico. The DFW-hosted games are expected to inject more than $400 million of economic impact into the region and will create more than 3,000 temporary jobs. Hunt emphasizes that each match will have the impact of a Super Bowl—if not more.
“We’re ready to do what we can to make this World Cup the most special of all AT&T Stadium events,” Jerry Jones said when the host committee met with FIFA World Cup representatives in July 2020.
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey—Dallas’ main competitor for the final, according to Yahoo! Sports—could lose out to AT&T Stadium due to not having a retractable roof. However, New York has the chance to win out over Dallas due to its public transportation. Renowned stadium architect Bryan Trubey, partner at Overland Partners, believes AT&T Stadium—a project he worked on at his previous post with HKS—is uniquely positioned to stand above its competitors for prime matches.
“AT&T Stadium is unlike any other venue on the planet right now,” Trubey told D CEO. “Just the scale of the venue itself, the amount of concourse space, the number of entertainment areas, the places where fans can hang out and have a view of the event, AT&T Stadium will be a key figure in the 2026 World Cup.”
The location of the International Broadcast Center, the tournament’s main media hub, is also still in flux, but Dallas hosted it in 1994, and Trubey, who’s main initiative with Overland is Fair Park, is confident the area can do it again. “Fair Park is positioned in a way that no other property is, with 277 acres. Fair Park is the perfect venue for the International Broadcast Center,” he said.
Other stadiums throughout North Texas, including the Cotton Bowl and FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium, will serve as training facilities. Sundance Square in Fort Worth, the Arlington Entertainment District, and Klyde Warren Park are all options for fan events.
Other cities winning matches include:
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- New York/New Jersey
- San Francisco
- Guadalajara, Mexico
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Monterrey, Mexico
- Toronto, Canada
- Vancouver, Canada
In 1994, the last time Dallas hosted the World Cup, six matches were played on the Cotton Bowl Stadium pitch—including the memorable quarterfinal matchup between Holland and Brazil. The six matches were the most successful to date in fan attendance, with a combined 3.5 million people packing the stadium—an average of nearly 69,000 per match. As a result of the stateside tournament, Major League Soccer launched.
The Dallas Host Committee expects FIFA to announce the schedule of matches each city will host in 8 to 12 months.