Status of all 11 U.S. host cities for World Cup 2026


It was a curious pairing that raised some eyebrows: FIFA president Gianni Infantino rubbing shoulders with Jerry Jones, the powerful owner of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, on a Sunday afternoon inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Infantino had been invited by the Texas billionaire to watch his team take on the New York Jets, and it resulted in a rare sighting of the FIFA head in the United States, where 11 cities are preparing to host the World Cup in 2026.

It was also a precursor to something more widespread: an operational planning tour to those host cities. The tour was split over two periods, with the first kicking off on Sept. 20 and lasting nine days, during which time a FIFA delegation of “operational experts” visited Miami, Houston, Kansas City, Boston, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia and Toronto. The second leg will begin next month in Dallas, reaching the remaining host cities, and conclude in Vancouver, Canada, by early November, FIFA has said.

After initially communicating to local organizers that they should anticipate a September reveal for the sites of the opening match, the final, and other key dates, sources now expect an announcement by FIFA no later than year’s end.

The schedule is likely a necessary first step for local organizers, who currently face an impossible task: preparing for the largest World Cup ever, while not knowing how many or which games they’ll be hosting.

The 2026 final, which will be played on July 19, remains up for grabs, with several reports alluding to Dallas and New York/New Jersey as favorites to secure the coveted match. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, once a top contender for the final, is apparently at risk of its entire hosting agreement going up in flames.

In the interim, here’s a summary on the 11 U.S. host cities and where things may stand with each.

Capacity and stadium notes from FIFA.


New York / New Jersey

Stadium: MetLife Stadium

Capacity: 82,500

Previous World Cups: 1994, 1999

New Jersey is no stranger to hosting World Cups.

The small town of East Rutherford, N.J., where MetLife Stadium sits, has welcomed football greats like Pele and Diego Maradona, and was once the home of the New York Cosmos. It hosted games in 1994 and 1999 at the old Giants Stadium, which was demolished in 2010. MetLife was built on an adjacent lot that same year and has since been the site of some major games, like the Copa America Centenario final in 2016, when Lionel Messi infamously quit his national team after falling to Chile in penalties for a second year in a row.

This past summer, the stadium broke its attendance record for a soccer match with 82,262 fans at a Manchester United vs. Arsenal friendly in July. There’s support for soccer at the state government level: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy are longtime part-owners of the NWSL’s Gotham FC.

The region has long been expected to be a top contender to host the final given its proximity to New York City and its stadium, which has the third-largest capacity of all 16 venues bookmarked for 2026.


Status of all 11 U.S. host cities for World Cup 2026

AT&T Stadium is reportedly a candidate to host the final (Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Dallas

Stadium: AT&T Stadium

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Capacity: 94,000

Previous World Cups: 1994

Dallas has one thing that no other host city can offer – the largest capacity for games.

AT&T Stadium has a capacity of 80,000, but can expand to host an estimated 105,000 spectators. This has set the stage for record-setting crowds since it opened in 2009. That year, the stadium set an NFL attendance record with 105,121 fans. In 2010, the venue set an NBA record for the largest All-Star Game attendance with a crowd of 108,713.

Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are planning an estimated $350 million in upgrades over the next several years – a price tag that includes, among other things, converting the world’s largest center-hung HDTV video board to 4K.

Dallas hosted six World Cup games in 1994, but that was at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. AT&T Stadium has hosted soccer, though, including some Gold Cup games this past summer.


SoFi Stadium’s status could be in jeopardy (Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Los Angeles

Stadium: So-Fi Stadium

Capacity: 70,000

Previous World Cups: 1994, 1999, 2003

Los Angeles has long been the popular choice for FIFA when it comes to marquee World Cup games in the United States. The iconic Rose Bowl stadium, which seats upwards of 92,000 fans, was the site of the 1994 and 1999 World Cup finals.

In 2026, matches will be played at SoFi Stadium, which opened in September 2020, making it the newest of all the World Cup venues. However, tensions have risen between FIFA and the Kroenke family (the stadium’s owners), over terms of the agreement to be a host venue as recently as September.

Multiple sources familiar with the discussions have told The Athletic KSE is unhappy with the terms of the deal with respect to how revenue will be shared between FIFA, the cities and the stadiums. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has already been a key fixture of 2026, with FIFA using the City of Angels as the backdrop for the brand reveal for host cities this past May.


Mercedes-Benz Stadium draws big crowds for Atlanta United and other soccer events (Alex Slitz/Getty Images for Premier League)

Atlanta

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Capacity: 75,000

Previous World Cups: 0

He may be biased, but Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens calls his city “the capital of soccer in this nation.” That was after U.S. Soccer announced last month plans to build a national training facility and HQ in the Atlanta area funded in part by a $50 million donation from Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank.

The city’s downtown has several major development projects underway as the 2026 World Cup approaches, with local news organizations describing the boom as the largest concentrated investment in Atlanta’s history. The largest project in that wave is closest to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, called Centennial Yards, and will feature a “mini-city” of hotels, offices, retail and apartments across 50 acres, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported.


NRG Stadium hosting Manchester United (Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Houston

Stadium: NRG Stadium

Capacity: 72,220

Previous World Cups: 0

Houston has become a regular site for international soccer matches, including a friendly between Real Madrid and Manchester United in July and three CONCACAF Gold Cup matches just weeks before that. NRG Stadium was also host to Copa America Centenario games in 2016 and has hosted two Super Bowls in 2004 and 2017.

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In December, Houston’s host city committee sent representatives to the World Cup in Qatar, where they took part in an observation program. The goal was to learn more about the operational demands of organizing a World Cup.

Houston is one of the largest cities in America by population – larger than nearby Dallas by about one million. That population is also a diverse one with an appetite for soccer. Census data as of July 1, 2022, estimates the Houston area is 22.6% Black, 6.8% Asian, 44.5% Hispanic or Latino and 24.1% White (alone, not Hispanic or Latino). About 10.8% of the population identified as two or more races. The city’s diverse population has prompted the city to invest in international games, fueling a vibrant soccer culture, organizers said. It’s also why their focus now is on what happens after the World Cup is over.


Seattle Sounders have called Lumen Field home since joining MLS (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle

Stadium: Lumen Field

Capacity: 69,000

Previous World Cups: 0

Seattle welcomed fans to a Copa America Centenario match in 2016 and has long had one of the most well-attended and vibrant games in MLS when the Seattle Sounders play at Lumen Field.

The city has been particularly transparent about its actions in preparing for the 2026 World Cup. City officials have posted their agreement with FIFA online, shedding a small light onto the usually obscure negotiations between the governing body and host cities. The city’s organizing committee this week also appointed Lisa Chin as its Chief Legacy Officer –a position that, so far, no other host city has invested in.

When the hire was announced, Chin compared the World Cup’s arrival in Seattle to the historic World’s Fair in 1962. The iconic Space Needle was built in the Seattle Center for the fair and has since become a symbol synonymous with the city. Seattle hopes to replicate a similar impact in 2026 – partly by investing in programs like the RAVE Foundation’s “26 by 2026” initiative, which aims to build 26 fields by 2026 in areas where access to free play may be limited.


Hard Rock Stadium has hosted many soccer events (Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images)

Miami

Stadium: Hard Rock Stadium

Capacity: 65,000

Previous World Cups: 0

Lionel Messi sent shock waves through the international soccer world when he announced plans to play for Inter Miami in MLS, but it was just the latest in a trend that has seen Miami become a hotbed for global soccer.

The Argentine Football Federation (AFA) is preparing to build its own Miami training facility as it targets a major U.S. expansion. FIFA also has its eyes set on South Florida;  the sport’s global governing body had already begun filling its newest U.S. outpost in Coral Gables, near Miami, in preparations for World Cup 2026. Jobs have been posted on LinkedIn at the new location. Then, news broke that FIFA would be relocating more than 100 jobs to Florida from Zurich, mostly its legal department.

It’s clear that Miami will be a significant stop for FIFA operations in 2026, despite not having the stadium capacity for a final match. The city has bid for the World Cup International Broadcast Center, Media Center and FanFest, according to the Miami Herald.


“The Linc” hosted the Premier League Summer Series in 2023 (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images for Premier League)

Philadelphia

Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field

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Capacity: 69,000

Previous World Cups: 2003

Philadelphia only hosted World Cup games in 2003, when the women’s tournament was relocated to the United States from China at the eleventh hour following a SARS outbreak in the original host nation. Philadelphia hosted that year’s opening game between North Korea and Nigeria, as well as several other matches.

The greater Pennsylvania region lays claim to some big soccer names, like Christian Pulisic of the U.S. men’s national team. Hailing from southern New Jersey, Carli Lloyd played her farewell match as a local inside Subaru Park, where the Philadelphia Union plays.

Local organizers say they are aware their infrastructure is limited compared to larger cities like New Jersey and New York or even Dallas. That’s why, they said, they’ve been working closely with their host city neighbors along the East Coast corridor to ensure a seamless transition of fans between games.


Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Ca. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

San Francisco / Bay Area

Stadium: Levi’s Stadium

Capacity: 71,000

Previous World Cups: 1994, 1999

The Bay Area will have a very busy 2026 as Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will host World Cup games and a Super Bowl that same year. The San Francisco 49ers, who call that venue home, are planning to borrow $120 million from the NFL’s stadium fund to upgrade seating and scoreboards ahead of the World Cup games.

The Bay Area has a rich soccer culture and is currently preparing the launch of Bay FC, an NWSL expansion team slated to begin play in 2024. During the World Cups in 2023 and 2024, city officials organized a World Cup Village in San Francisco’s downtown to host public screenings of tournament matches. The event, according to officials, drew more than 12,000 spectators for the men’s tournament in 2022.

Watch parties and activities, like fan festivals, are common in host cities while games are going on. During the 2023 women’s tournament, watch parties in Australia and New Zealand attracted standing-room-only crowds inside FIFA-designated spaces.


Gillette Stadium was built adjacent to old Foxboro Stadium (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

Boston

Stadium: Gillette Stadium

Capacity: 65,000

Previous World Cups: 1994, 1999, 2003

Boston is one of two cities – Los Angeles being the other – that has hosted World Cup games each time the tournament has been played on U.S. soil. The now-demolished Foxboro Stadium was the last place Diego Maradona scored a World Cup goal, and the venue where he was infamously walked off the pitch hand-in-hand with a nurse before failing a drug test.

Though most of the focus has been on 2026, there remains an active bid by U.S. Soccer to host the 2027 women’s tournament jointly with Mexico. A successful run-up to 2026 could be enough to convince FIFA to continue investing in the North American game in places like Boston.


Arrowhead last hosted international soccer in a 2015 Mexico vs. Paraguay friendly (Omar Vega/LatinContent via Getty Images)

Kansas City

Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium

Capacity: 73,000

Previous World Cups: 0

The foundation for soccer in Kansas City is solid. Sporting Kansas City was one of the founding clubs of Major League Soccer and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the local soccer scene since. On the women’s side, the Kansas City Current has pushed the envelope on what a professional women’s club can do. Last year, the franchise opened an $18 million training facility. Next year, they plan to open a $120 million riverfront stadium where the team will play – calling it the first sports stadium in the world dedicated solely to a women’s professional sports team.

The city is also known for its loyal – and loud – fandom. Arrowhead Stadium, where World Cup games will be played, is believed to be one of the loudest stadiums in the entire world.

 

(Top photo: Rich Schultz/LatinContent via Getty Images)