FIFA Names 16 World Cup 2026 Host Cities (11 U.S., 3 Mexican and 2 Canadian)
Baltimore/Washington D.C. is out and Boston is in as Bob Kraft works his personal-friendship magic with FIFA president Gianni Infantino
FIFA named 16 host cities for World Cup 2026 on Thursday: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Guadalajara, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Monterrey, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver. We predicted 15 of the 16 final choices correctly and five of the six cuts.
Here are my three thoughts on the decisions:
• The only surprise for me is Boston in and Baltimore/Washington D.C. out. With Edmonton bowing out in Canada, there was a late expectation that there might end up being 11 U.S. cities instead of 10, and that’s exactly what happened. But Boston’s bid had appeared to be in real trouble, with people close to the situation reporting that public funding was lacking and concerns about the long distance between downtown Boston and Foxboro. Baltimore/Washington D.C. had issues with its bid, too—FedEx Field was a disaster and got dropped for Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium—and there was a reason I didn’t include either Boston or Baltimore/Washington if 10 U.S. cities had been chosen. But I did think the nation’s capital would get the nod if it went to 11, and that didn’t happen. The decisive factor I can chalk it up to is Bob Kraft’s personal relationship with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, which goes back years. Even someone connected to the Boston bid told me recently that Boston was “on the outside looking in,” but that wasn’t the case when the final choice came down.
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• FIFA’s idea of “Central” is doing a lot of work. FIFA announced the host cities in three groups: West, Central and East. But the “Central” group was a lame way of trying to mask that only one Midwest city (Kansas City) got the nod for games while the cities left out included Denver, Cincinnati and Nashville. Which cities were in FIFA’s “Central” group in addition to Kansas City? Atlanta (!), Dallas, Houston, Monterrey and Mexico City. Ultimately, Chicago’s decision to not even bid at all was always going to be a game-changer for the Midwest, but the fact remains that this World Cup will seem like a mostly coastal tournament.
• The Rose Bowl is out. The broadcast made it clear that the games in Los Angeles will take place in SoFi Stadium and not in the Rose Bowl, which ended any hopes that there might be two venue stadiums in the L.A. area. And while it would have been a romantic nod to past World Cups to stage games at the Rose Bowl (home of World Cup final games in 1994 and ‘99), it’s usually better to follow the money with FIFA, which can earn more revenues from the newer SoFi. The question now is which cities will host the most important games like the opener, the semifinals and the final. And that may not be answered until next year.
What are your thoughts? You can join the discussion in the comments below.