Baltimore is among 32 cities being considered as hosts for the world’s biggest soccer tournament in 2026.
The United Bid Committee announced yesterday that it’s cut its list of potential sites in North America from 41 to 32, and Baltimore is still in the running. The updated list includes 25 cities in the United States, four in Canada and three in Mexico. The nine cities recently ruled out include Cleveland, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Pittsburgh.
The selection process considers the city’s profile, its existing stadiums, training sites and hotels, transportation and how each candidate location “could contribute to a united hosting strategy for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” according to a release from the United Bid Committee.
“As we move to the next stage of the bid process, we’re even more confident we have everything needed to deliver the largest, most compelling FIFA World Cup in history and help accelerate the growth of soccer across North America and around the world,” said Sunil Gulati, United Bid Committee chairman, in a statement.
Obviously, state and local officials would be excited to bring a tournament to town that can bring with it an economic boon. Research suggests developed countries particularly benefit in the short and long term from hosting the World Cup. (Results can be mixed for developing countries that have to build a bunch of stadiums and pretend they have the proper infrastructure to host tens of millions of visitors.)
If it did come to Baltimore, the Ravens’ home field would be a welcome host, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford suggested in a statement yesterday.
“Today’s announcement is great news for Baltimore and Maryland, for M&T Bank Stadium, and for soccer fans across the region, like myself,” he said. “We look forward to the next phase of the process and our expanded relationship with the United Bid Committee.'”
Baltimore still has plenty of competition. other East Coast cities including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, D.C., Philadelphia, Miami and New York. However, there’s a reasonable chance we could still be getting some international soccer in town. Twelve cities in all will be selected as host venues for matches, according to the United Bid Committee.
Moving forward, officials from each city will have to send hosting documents to FIFA, the international soccer federation. Representatives from all 32 cities will go to Houston during the week of Nov. 13 for a work session.
History shows the U.S. does well as a host. In fact, we’re still the well-cemented record holder for attendance from when we hosted in 1994. Nearly 69,000 people on average attended FIFA World Cup matches that year; Brazil is the runner-up from 2014, with an average attendance of just under 53,000.
Also noteworthy: Baltimore loves the World Cup.