All but three cities respond positively to North American bid's call for World Cup venues
Some 41 cities across USA, Canada and Mexico have submitted applications to host matches at the 2026 Fifa World Cup if the joint bid of the three North American countries is successful.
Last month, the United Bid Committee launched the host city selection process, sending requests for information (RFIs) to 34 cities in USA, seven in Canada and three in Mexico.
There has been an overwhelmingly positive response, with only Green Bay in Wisconsin and San Diego in California, both in USA, and Calgary in Alberta, Canada, not interested in staging matches.
The bid committee will now review all the submissions and release an initial shortlist of cities in the autumn. At that point, more detailed bid information will be provided and there will be meetings to discuss questions as the candidate cities prepare their final bids.
It is envisaged that 20 to 25 cities will be included in the final bid to be submitted to Fifa, by 16 March, 2018, and that if the bid is successful, at least 12 will ultimately serve as official host cities.
For the World Cup all stadia are required to have at least 40,000 seats for group stage matches, and a capacity of at least 80,000 to be considered for the opening match and the final.
Unsuccessful bid cities could still be involved in the tournament, for example, by being the location for the International Broadcast Centre, team base camps or the site for the preliminary of final draw.
USA, Canada and Mexico are competing against Morocco for the right to stage the 2026 World Cup, with the host to be decided at the Fifa Congress in Moscow on 13 June 2018, on the eve of the opening match of next year’s tournament in Russia.
The North American bid is the strong favourite, not least because the World Cup has not been held in the Concacaf region since USA was the host in 1994.
Under proposals announced in April, 60 games of the tournament, which is being expanded from 32 to 48 teams, would be played in USA, with Mexico and Canada having 10 each.
The 32 US cities that responded to the RFI are Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas (two stadia), Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (three stadia), Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco/San Jose, Seattle, Tampa and Washington DC.
The six contenders from Canada are Edmonton, Montreal,
Ottawa, Regina, Toronto and Vancouver, while Mexico City, Guadalajara and
Monterrey are the Mexican options.
John Kristick, the executive director of the United Bid Committee, said: “The host cities will help define the United Bid. Each will offer the best facilities and infrastructure to stage the world’s biggest single-event sporting competition, the Fifa World Cup, and together they will play a key role in the development of the sport in North America.
“We’re thrilled with the submissions that we have received, especially each city’s commitment to innovation and sustainability, and we look forward to bringing the best group of candidate host cities together for our official United Bid.”