Not only is the final game worth millions in tourist spending, destinations will win bragging rights and put themselves on the map with new tourist markets.
FIFA’s 2026 World Cup with be in North America and the biggest U.S. cities have their eyes on one big prize: Hosting the final match.
The contenders are most likely Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York’s surrounding area. Only three stadiums are large enough to host the final game, said NYC Tourism+Conventions President and CEO Fred Dixon. “It’s LA’s new SoFi Stadium, which is a nice shiny new object, the Cowboy Stadium, and MetLife in New Jersey,” he said.
FIFA is expected to release the match schedule and locations in September and the final game contenders have been clear about what they want.
New York: “We’re the media capital of the world, the nation’s largest city, the largest catchment of soccer fans in the world, the most diverse community in America,” he said. “The fans around the world think we’re hosting the finals. If you ask people just randomly, where do you think the finals? They’re like, well, it’ll be in New York.”
Dallas: “We’ve been very vocal about hosting the finals, at the very least semifinals, and being considered for numerous reasons,” said Monica Paul, executive director of the Dallas Sports Commission, at the Destinations International 2023 Annual Convention.
Los Angeles: “We are pushing hard to get the finals,” said LA Tourism President and CEO Adam Burke. “There’s not a bad seat in the house,” he said, referring to SoFi, which was built in 2019 and rumored to cost $5 billion. “It’s got this massive infinity board that runs the entire periphery.” Burke also noted the potential economic boost from hosting the games: “In terms of direct visitors spending, you’re talking about half a billion dollars associated with it.”
LA is also a big media market and because the city is so spread out, massive congestion is less likely to be a problem, which will preserve the visitor experience, said Burke.
Dallas’s AT&T Stadium can host 100,000 fans, said Paul. The final game would strengthen the region’s status in tourism. Dallas estimates the World Cup games will bring an economic boost of over $400 million and 3,000 new jobs from hosting the World Cup.
Each World Cup game will fill the MetLife stadium with 80,000 fans. “This is going to be the equivalent of hosting six or seven or eight Super Bowls within a probably six-week period,” said New York’s Dixon, who is a trustee for New York and New Jersey’s hosting committee.
More games can make up for not having the finals in terms of economic impact, but it won’t make up for the prestige. “Whether you fill it for 80,000 for the finals, or 80,000 for a semi or a quarter, the more games we get, the more economic impact ultimately,” said Dixon. “There’s still the prestige of getting the finals.”
The FIFA Fan Festival, a free watch party for the tournament to watch games in host cities, will bring large visitation and energize locals. “We’ve proposed fan fests in every borough,” said Dixon. “We want every local to have access.”
Host cities will also get new attention with tourists. “A lot of people who will come to LA because of a major event who may be it wasn’t on their list before, or maybe they weren’t thinking of it for meetings and conventions,” said LA’s Burke.
No wonder destinations are hungry for the match schedule. “Right now, it’s a little bit sit and wait, but there’s a little poking and prodding, we all like to have a little fun in the sports world,” said Dallas’ Paul at at the Destinations International Annual Conference.
This year, FIFA expanded the number of teams playing from from 32 to 48, increasing the number of matches destinations will host. Kansas City, for example, may potentially host eight or nine matches, instead of five to seven, said Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of Visit KC at the Destinations International Annual Conference. The tournament will be held from June 11 to July, 26, 2026, across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
U.S. destinations are raising money to host the games in the meantime. “At this point, we’re all in revenue generator mode as we eagerly wait this fall to learn exactly how many matches we’ll be hosting,” Dallas’ Paul said at the Destinations International Annual Conference.
New York City and New Jersey’s hosting committee needs to raise around $100 million between now and 2026, said Dixon.
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch
Photo credit: World Cup trophy. Photo Credit: Andy Macfarlane Andy Macfarlane / Unsplash