The FIFA World Cup is perhaps the most prestigious soccer tournament on earth. And as millions of fans worldwide gear up to enjoy the 2022 edition this autumn, we’ve been looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup. As the first iteration of the competition to be hosted by three countries, Mexico, Canada and the U.S., it promises to be exceptional.
But there’s another kind of tournament currently underway in the U.S. — the bid to host the 2026 game. A total of 17 U.S. cities have applied for the right to host some of the 60 matches set to be played in the country. But which metros are the most capable of taking on this task?
In a recent analysis, 42Floors compared all 17 cities that have placed bids. Using FIFA’s Guide to the Bidding Process as a guideline, the study measured seven metrics to help gauge the hosting capabilities of each. The metrics are as follows:
- Stadium capacity: Measured by the number of seats and overall size
- Fan Fest venues: A place for fans to gather and celebrate, complete with giant screens, food and drinks, as well as security
- Training facilities: The distance of training areas from team hotels, plus the size and quality of these facilities
- Hotels: A measure of the number of available hotel rooms in the proposed host city
- Broadcasting capabilities: The number of broadcasting establishments and the city’s ability to provide a robust IT network for seamless coverage
- Public transit usage: The ease of access to stadiums via public transportation and the capability of transit systems to cope with high volumes of visitors
- Airports: Measuring the annual passenger volume and the distance of the airport from the stadium
Each metric has been allocated a maximum number of points that a city can score. Adding up the total number of points helped determine which metros are the most capable of hosting FIFA Cup Games in 2026:
Here’s an overview of the top three cities:
1. New York & New Jersey
In first place, perhaps not surprisingly, are New York and New Jersey. NYC is one of the most iconic U.S. cities, known worldwide as a hub of entertainment and culture. The metro scores total points for the broadcasting, hotel and public transportation metrics, beating off most of the competition by a fair margin.
With a capacity of 87,157, the city’s MetLife Stadium can easily accommodate matchday crowds. Plus, with an advanced public transportation network, visitors should have no problems reaching it. Indeed, the New Jersey Transit Board is devising a new transit concept to upgrade the current system and handle crowds better. When it comes to generating revenue via broadcasting rights, the 1,032 media and broadcasting companies in the greater metropolitan area make NYC a clear winner.
Finally, New York’s hotels boast an incredible 96,129 rooms. The diverse offerings range from international budget chain hotels to full five-star luxury and cozy boutique hotels, ensuring there’s plenty of room for everyone.
2. Los Angeles
Heading west, LA takes second place. It follows right after New York and New Jersey when it comes to metrics such as broadcasting, where it ranks second, and hotels, where it comes in third. The 970 broadcasting companies in LA leave them miles ahead of the next runner-up, San Francisco, which has only 320.
With two stadiums on offer, the Rose Bowl, with a capacity of 88,432, and the SoFi Stadium, expandable to over 100,000 spectators, Los Angeles takes the second spot for this metric. The Rose Bowl, which hosted the 1994 World Cup final, is LA’s official venue and its history certainly works in the city’s favor.
Regarding hotels, LA boasts 79,569 rooms across the metropolitan area, providing plenty of choice for fans and participants alike.
Dallas takes third place. Its official venue, the AT&T Stadium, leads the competition, scoring maximum points and putting it well ahead of the competition. With a capacity of up to 92,967, it can accommodate many more spectators than its rivals. In addition to being among the largest, it’s also one of the most advanced stadiums on earth.
Dallas is also home to several other sports facilities and stadiums that can boost its bid. Among these, the Cotton Bowl Stadium was used during the 1994 World Cup and even hosted the quarterfinal.
And regarding the 1994 World Cup, Dallas has even more history to aid its bid. Back then, it hosted the IBC (International Broadcast Center), a temporary hub for broadcasters and journalists from around the world. Dallas has once again applied to host the IBC, and with 189 broadcasting casting companies in the city, it ranks ninth in the broadcast metric. Finally, coming in fourth place in terms of hotels, Dallas follows LA close behind, with 79,281 rooms expected to be available for the tournament.
Time will tell which cities are selected for the 2026 FIFA World Cup out of the 17 that have applied. But with these findings, we have a fairly good idea of what makes some metros stand out compared to others.
Interested in the office or shared spaces market in the areas mentioned in this study? Check out the links below: