Dallas took another step in its bid to be a host city for the 2026 World Cup with an official second meeting on Friday with FIFA, soccer’s international governing body.
The 2026 World Cup will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico and FIFA is currently reviewing a list of 23 cities that could host the tournament.
AT&T Stadium in Arlington is the focus of the Dallas bid that is inclusive of the entire North Texas Region, but headlined by FC Dallas, AT&T Stadium and the Dallas Sports Commission.
The candidate cities includes three Canadian cities (Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto), three Mexican cities (Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey), and 17 American metro areas, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, the New York/New Jersey area, Orlando, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C., in addition to Dallas.
According to FIFA, 16 cities will make the final cut — three will be awarded to Canada, three will be given to Mexico, and the remaining 10 will go to the United States.
The selections are expected to be made this December with Dallas positioned well to make the final cut, according to Dallas Sports Commission executive director Monica Paul, who said no major changes are needed at AT&T Stadium.
Also on the virtual zoom call with FIFA on Friday were FC Dallas president Dan Hunt, who is the chairman of the Dallas bid committee, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Chad Estis, AT&T Stadium general manager Tod Martin and AT&T Stadium director of event booking Delanie Foley.
“It is favorable to us for us in Dallas in terms of our location and connectivity to Canada and Mexico as well as be centrally located in the United States,” Paul said. “I think it helps having DFW [Dallas-Fort Worth Airport], American [Airlines], Southwest [Airlines] and Love Field to be a huge connectors and be able to handle the transportation element not only for the people in the United States but also for our international guests coming. From a capacity standpoint, amenities and the stadium, we think we are positioned well.”
The Dallas committee is hoping to host as many matches as possible at AT&T Stadium from the group stages to a quarterfinal, semifinal and final.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first to include 48 teams, up from the current 32-team setup, and 80 games. Canada and Mexico are expected to get 10 games each with the remaining 60 going to the United States.
The next steps in the process start with another meeting with FIFA in April or May on other things associated with the bid including: fan fests, international broadcast centers, human rights and transportation.
FIFA site visits are expected to happen in July, August and September, contingent on the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel with the final decision expected in December.
Dallas was one of nine host cities in 1994, the last time the event was held in the United States. The Cotton Bowl hosted six games; four round-robin matches and two elimination games, including a round-of-16 contest and one quarterfinal.