21 Sep MetLife Stadium a possibility for venue
Let the countdown begin.
In less than five years, the 2026 World Cup will kick off in the United States, Canada and Mexico — and, if things on Tuesday went well, the world’s biggest soccer stage could be set in North Jersey and the nearby region.
A delegation of FIFA execs stopped in New Jersey on Tuesday as part of a nine-day tour of host cities from Boston to Miami to help them decide which venues would be finalized as host stadiums for the 2026 tournament.
As part of their tour, the delegation met with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and visited several key venues in the surrounding region, including MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, which has long been a top contender for the coveted World Cup final.
“We are incredibly excited to host the FIFA delegation and show off what we believe is the best stadium in the country,” Murphy said. “As an avid soccer fan, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to host the world’s greatest game on the world’s biggest stage.”
One of the lucrative benefits of hosting a World Cup game includes a projected economic benefit to the region of more than $500 million, state officials said. In New Jersey, the ultimate goal would be to host the final at MetLife Stadium, they added.
But the delegation also toured locations in the region for other World Cup-related needs.
Soccer:A pro soccer championship at 9 a.m.? NWSL draws ire from players for ‘laughable’ move
Some sites, like Liberty State Park and Central Park, are being considered potential FIFA Fan Fest sites. In addition to MetLife, six more venues would be used as training facilities for teams, including Rutgers University; the Pingry School, which hosted the Italian national soccer team during the 1994 Men’s World Cup held in the United States; Kean University; Red Bull Arena in Harrison and the Red Bulls’ training facility in Whippany; and the New York City Football Club’s training facility in Orangeburg, New York.
The competition to land a spot as a host venue for the 48-team tournament is fierce. FIFA will choose 11 cities in the United States to host games, three cities in Mexico and two in Canada. Other U.S. cities in the running include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The United States has hosted World Cups in the past — the men’s tournament in 1994, and women’s tournaments in 1999 and 2003. During the men’s tournament in 1994, Giants Stadium, the old home of the NFL’s Giants and Jets, hosted seven playoff games that brought thousands of fans to East Rutherford. And, as American football fans may recall, MetLife Stadium hosted the Super Bowl in 2014 — which may be remembered by those who attended as a transit nightmare.
More recently, MetLife hosted the Copa América Centenario Final between Argentina and Chile — a fierce rematch of the 2015 final that caused Lionel Messi to temporarily leave Argentina’a national team after its devastating loss in penalty kicks. The match drew 82,026 fans, then regarded as the largest soccer crowd in New Jersey history.
Officials on Tuesday began an aggressive campaign for FIFA officials to choose this region. New Jersey and New York City leaders presented a joint bid Tuesday to the FIFA delegation with the goal of once again bringing the games to East Rutherford, and a NY/NJ Host City Bid Committee launched a campaign called “Welcome, World” to push for the area to become an official host city. The campaign’s three-minute welcome video can be found on nynj2026.com.
“This is an immensely exciting opportunity to showcase our great state to an international audience,” Murphy said in a statement. “The FIFA World Cup is among the premier sporting events in the world and MetLife Stadium is among the country’s best, so we’re excited for the chance to bring the two together.”
The FIFA delegation — led by Victor Montagliani, FIFA’s vice president, and Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief tournaments and events officer — included experts across multiple fields including venue management, stadium and city infrastructure, team facilities, commercial bidding, and legal.
The group was joined by representatives from U.S. Soccer, the Canadian Soccer Association and the Mexican Football Federation.
“We are excited to be here. We have been very well received by the governor, the mayor, and the whole team,” said Montagliani in a statement. “Their passion for their game, and their passion to bring the World Cup to New York and New Jersey comes through very clearly. We’ll continue to work with them and we’re shooting for having a decision in the first quarter of next year.”
The delegation will continue its tour through Sept. 23. This initial tour, lasting nine days, also included visits to Boston, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Miami. The remaining U.S. bidding venues, and venues in Canada and Mexico, will be visited by the end of November, according to FIFA.
Melanie Anzidei is a reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Credit: Source link