Bay Area applies to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches (at Levi’s Stadium)

Bay Area business leaders, mayors and 49ers line up to woo a group of FIFA officials who are coming to visit this weekend to define Levi’s Stadium as a potential host arena for the 2026 World Cup .

As you may have heard, all of North America – the United States as well as Mexico and Canada – have been selected to host the quadrennial soccer tournament in 2026, marking the first time that the world is organized by more than two countries at the same time. All three countries submitted a joint bid to host in 2017 and the only other country to apply was Morocco, and the North American bid was chosen in 2018. (According to the rules established in 2016, the tournament must continue to be held. move around the world, and as a result, Europe and Asia were not in the running for 2026, with Russia and Qatar serving as hosts in 2018 and 2022, respectively.)

In total, FIFA plans to select 16 cities to host matches, which will take place from June 8 to July 3, 2026. And the San Francisco Bay Area has a good chance of being one of them, given that only 22 cities put it. offers. As reported by the SF Business Times, the other US cities in the running are Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, New York / New Jersey, Washington DC, Baltimore, Atlanta, Nashville, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Miami, Orlando, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Houston. Only two cities in Canada are submitting bids, Toronto and Edmonton. And in Mexico, three cities are vying to be hosts: Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.

Of the 80 games that will be played, there will be 10 each in Canada and Mexico, and 60 across the United States. Each match is expected to attract at least 60,000 fans.

FIFA officials will land in the Bay Area on Friday, after visiting Kansas City and Cincinnati last week, Dallas on Saturday and Sunday, then Houston and Denver on Monday. And to welcome them there will be the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, as well as the heads of the 49ers and the executives of Levi Strauss & Co., Visa, Google / Alphabet, Lyft, SAP SE, Salesforce, Airbnb and Café. and Peet’s tea.

“The 49ers have been proud stewards of the Bay Area for decades, and we’ve seen time and time again how one of the world’s most diverse regions gets excited about big sporting events,” said the president of the 49ers, Al Guido, in a statement. “The excitement and community spirit unique to the Bay Area has been directed into football for generations, dating back to the FIFA World Cup matches held in the region in 1994 and 1999 which were a huge success. . “

Guido continued: “There is no doubt in my mind that the 2026 FIFA World Cup would inspire an even greater response, and we are honored to lead the Bay Area bid to host this exciting and engaging event.”

Guido is chairman of the World Cup bidding body called the Bay Area 2026 Board.

“Hosting the FIFA World Cup would be an honor for the Bay Area, and I think something would benefit our community for years to come,” SF Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

The Bay Area last hosted World Cup games in 1994, when the United States last served as the host nation. The Bay Area also hosted the semifinals of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, which was held at Stanford University.

Football has been a natural fit for Levi’s Stadium, which has already hosted a major football tournament since it opened, the 2016 Copa América Centenario.

The stadium can accommodate 68,500 seats, but is expandable to approximately 75,000 seats.

As the Business Times notes, FIFA representatives will be there to tour the site and ask questions about infrastructure, training facilities, etc.

The official Bay Area bid site features a quote from Honorary Board Chair Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

“The FIFA World Cup is the ultimate unifier in international sport. I am honored to have the opportunity to champion the Bay Area’s rich cultural offerings, the spirit of innovation and the passion for the hosting leading events – and delighted to be working with US Soccer, FIFA and our community leaders to harness the power of this event to encourage positive social change through various legacy initiatives. Bay Area will be an incredible host to the tens of thousands of domestic and international visitors who will come to celebrate the most prestigious football competition in the world. “

The selected cities will be announced early next year.

Photo by Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

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