At this point, the only sure thing about Cincinnati’s bid to host the men’s soccer World Cup in 2026 is that the years-long process ends on Thursday.
While experts have consistently questioned Cincinnati’s viability as a potential host location for the World Cup, one of the biggest and most glamorous sporting events on Earth, the city has survived to reach the final spot in the bidding process and will know its fate Thursday night.
During an announcement ceremony in New York City, FIFA officials will designate a select number of US cities to host the World Cup matches as part of the 2026 tournament, which will be jointly hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
With the construction of Cincinnati’s soccer infrastructure in recent years, the Greater Cincinnati area has a reasonable chance of participating in the 2026 World Cup in some form, perhaps as a base camp and training site for one or several national teams during the tournament.
But the real prizes that cities chase after are the games themselves, which can bring about transformative changes in the venues and regions that stage competitions.
While the Cincinnati bid presentation and follow-up field visits are believed to have impressed and satisfied FIFA officials, it remains unclear where the bid will arrive on Thursday.
Part of the difficulty with derailing the 2026 World Cup in Cincinnati was that the decision-making process was still evolving and unfolding late in the process.
In addition to FIFA’s use of recent days and weeks to associate easy endings with bidding leaders, it’s unclear how many US cities will be selected.
FIFA’s stated intention was to pick 10 US-based markets in additions to three cities in Mexico and Canada, but experts and insiders suggested this week that as many as 12 US cities could end up getting matches.
The fate of Edmonton is of particular importance, as the Commonwealth Stadium is located in the capital, Alberta, Canada, He may be out of the race to host matches.
A development such as only two Canadian cities winning matches could open the door for additional US cities to be selected.
Win or lose, Thursday’s announcement will end the bid by Cincinnati officials who have sought to use the biggest stage in football to advance in the region.
Jeff Bearding, FC Cincinnati’s co-CEO and executive member of the Cincinnati Local Organizing Committee for 2026, told The Enquirer Wednesday that he believes Cincinnati is ready to meet ambitious goals such as hosting the World Cup.
“When we first put Cincinnati in the US Soccer Championships as part of our effort to win the 2026 World Cup here in the US, Mexico and Canada, most people expected (Cincinnati) to be out of the way,” Birding said. “Here we are about to have a great opportunity presented to Cincinnati, and I am so proud of the show and so grateful to all the people who came forward to get us to this point.
“There is a lot of pride in giving from where we started…This new football culture has helped highlight Cincinnati’s growth, and I believe this has aligned the presentation of the World Cup, and perhaps benefited from the growth and renaissance, the emergence of FC Cincinnati. These things go hand in hand, and they work in support of each other. There are a huge number of people in this community who deserve recognition.”
Cincinnati’s bid collides with venues in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC/Baltimore.
In the meantime, FIFA will reveal Thursday which US cities will host the matches It supposed to be A closely guarded secret.
What’s far from a secret is that football experts across the country aren’t giving the Cincinnati Show many chances. Yahoo Sports It was reported that Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati is still a long way from being honored with the games NBC Sports The city’s application ranked last among 16 countries still in dispute.
The Oddsmakers don’t like the Cincinnati chances either. Bookies.com He assessed Cincinnati as the longest chance to achieve the World Cup host city’s status in matches.
This isn’t the first time Cincinnati has been questioned on the football front, of course.
While the two projects are different in many ways, some of the arguments against Cincinnati’s hosting of World Cup matches are similar to the cases against FC Cincinnati’s push for an expansion bid to join Major League Soccer.
Cincinnati eventually realized its MLS ambitions, but it’s certainly fair to say that hosting the World Cup matches is an entirely different proposition, and in some ways more challenging.
Here is a look at the other stadiums in the United States vying to host matches, some of their features and football history:
Atlanta – Mercedes-Benz Stadium (71,000 capacity; retractable roof and synthetic playing surface). Others: The home of Atlanta United in Major League Soccer and has staged several high-profile matches including the MLS Cup 2018 and MLS All-Star Game 2018 (MLS vs. Juventus).
Boston – Gillette Stadium (65878 capacity; outdoor and artificial playing surface). Others: Home of the New England Revolution of MLS, it organized the MLS Cup, Copa America Centenario (2016), FIFA Women’s World Cup (2003) and friendlies. The old Foxboro Stadium also hosted the Men’s and Women’s World Cup matches in 1994 and 1999.
Cincinnati – Paul Brown Stadium (65,535 capacity; outdoor and artificial playing surface) More details here. Other: The US women’s team played on the field. Cincinnati has been home to five USWNT and men’s national team games since 2017, including the USMNT World Cup Qualifiers and Mexico in November at TQL Stadium.
Dallas – AT&T Stadium (80,000 capacity; retractable roof and synthetic playing surface).
Denver – Empower Field at Mile High (76125; outdoor and grass playing surface)
Others: Hosted the CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League matches.
Houston – NRG Stadium (72,200 capacity; retractable roof and pre-play turf properties). Others: The Mexican national team played matches on the arena which also hosted the Copa America matches in 2016).
Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium (Capacity 76,416; outdoor and turf playing surface). Others: Home of the Major League Soccer franchise in Kansas City, now known as Sporting KC, until 2007.
Los Angeles – Rose Bowl (Ninety thousand spectators, open field and grass surface) and SoFi . Stadium (70,000 capacity, partially enclosed and synthetic surface). Others: The Rose Bowl served as a venue during the 1994 Men’s World Cup and the 1999 Women’s World Cup, with tournament matches in both tournaments being held there. Also home to the CONCACAF Gold Cup and friendlies. SoFi Stadium hosted this year’s NFL Super Bowl.
Miami – Hard Rock Stadium (65326 capacity; outdoor and grass playing surface). Others: Earlier in its existence, the venue was a proposed site for the 1994 World Cup. Hard Rock Stadium was home to several high-profile international and friendly matches, including part of the International Champions Cup.
Nashville – Nissan Stadium (69,143 capacity; outdoor and turf play surface but could undergo significant renovation or replacement work). Others: Hosted the 2021 USMNT World Cup Qualifiers against Canada, home of Nashville SC of MLS (2020, 2021). Also home to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup matches.
New York / New Jersey – MetLife Stadium (82500 capacity, outdoor and synthetic playing surface). Others: Home of the 2016 Copa America Centenario Final. It also hosts friendly matches. The old Giants Stadium also hosted matches for the 1994 Men’s World Cup and the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
Orlando – Camping World Stadium (capacity 65,000, outdoor). Others: Home of Orlando City FC before the club’s football stadium was built. Also home to the Copa America Centenario.
Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field (capacity 67594; outdoor and turf playing surface). Others: The first ever event on the field was a friendly match between FC Barcelona and Manchester United. He served as a short-term home for the Philadelphia Union in two games during their inaugural MLS season. Also home to CONCACAF Gold Cup matches, FIFA Women’s World Cup (2003), 2010 USMNT World Cup Serving Series, Copa America Centenario, and friendlies.
San Francisco – Levi’s Stadium (capacity 68,500; outdoor and lawn games). Others: Home of the Copa America matches.
Seattle – Lumen Field (capacity 67,000; open air and artificial surface). Others: Home of Seattle Sounders and host of the MLS Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, 2022 CONCACAF Champions League Final (second-leg), Copa America Centenario, and friendlies.
Washington DC / Baltimore – M&T Bank Playground (71,008 capacity, outdoor and grass playing surface).
how to watch
Thursday’s announcement by FIFA officials is set to begin at 5pm ET with TV coverage on FS1, Telemundo and FIFA+.
Locals can catch a viewing party at The Pitch, a football bar located directly across Central Parkway from TQL Stadium and located at 1430 Central Pkwy.
The Enquirer will provide live coverage and real-time updates from bid leaders in Cincinnati following the announcement.
Host cities in Mexico and Canada
As mentioned earlier, the United States jointly hosts the 2026 World Cup with its neighbors to the north and south.
In those countries, the bidding to host matches seems to be going pretty straightforward.
In Mexico, the world-famous Estadio Azteca is as close to locking in as it can host matches in 2026.
Located in Mexico City, Azteca is home to Club America and takes pride in being one of two stadiums in the world to host two separate FIFA World Cup Finals (1970 and 1986).
It is also expected to host the BBVA Stadium in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon and Akron Stadium in Guadalajara.
BBVA Stadium is the home of the glittering 51,000-capacity CF Monterrey club, featuring a covered roof that curves at one end to reveal a breathtaking view of Cera de la Silla. The stadium opened in 2015.
Estadio Akron is the home of Chivas Guadalajara and has a capacity of 46,355. It opened in 2010.
In Canada, BC Place in Vancouver and BMO Field in Toronto are widely expected to be named World Cup sites. And once again, Edmonton, Alberta’s Commonwealth Stadium is up and running but could fail to win matches.
During the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Qatar, the Canadian men’s team used the frozen and snowy Commonwealth Stadium to defeat Costa Rica and Mexico in November.
But while the stadium served as a qualifying bulwark for the Canadians, some suggested the stadium might lack amenities.
BC Place hosted the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final and seated 53,341 for the competition won by the USWNT.
BMO Field opened in 2007 and has already undergone expansion in its history. It is expected to expand again to host the 2026 World Cup, this time from its current capacity of 30,000 and at least 45,000, according to reports.
BMO Field hosted the MLS Cup Finals, both as a neutral venue and as the home stadium for Toronto FC, and is steeped in history for the various CONCACAF competitions held there.