DALLAS — The 2026 FIFA World Cup may be four years away, but the work and preparation to be ready as a host city has already begun.
Dallas (really, Arlington, since AT&T Stadium was chosen as the match venue) was selected in June as one of the 16 host sites for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Since the announcement, representatives from all 16 host cities attended a FIFA workshop in New York, where they learned about the next steps. There are still coveted matches to pitch for, though: the final match, semifinal matches, the opening match, etc.
According to Gina Miller, a representative from the Dallas bid committee, FIFA will not announce where these matches will be played until late Q1/early Q2 2023 "at the earliest."
The representative told WFAA that FIFA doesn't want to do anything to take away from FIFA World Cup Qatar later this fall. FIFA representatives are, however, doing more site visits in late-July, August and September to gather more information and data (ranging from office space, hospitality, etc.) to ultimately make that decision in 2023.
“We, here in Dallas, the entire region is still focused on a final, semifinal or the opening game. We are still very much so pitching for those matches,” Miller said. "I’m sure every city wants the final. But realistically, some venues might not be as well-suited to host a match of that magnitude as other venues. I certainly think that every city that has been selected to host matches in 2026 is really focused on continuing to refine what it is they can do from a presentation standpoint and operation standpoint. We think we are right up there. We certainly see markets like New York and L.A. being prime competition for finals, semifinals, opening match simply because of star power in Los Angeles and New York."
"Mercedes-Benz Stadium [in Atlanta] has a remarkable venue and a wonderful presentation with great transportation. But we think at AT&T Stadium with its suites, with its luxury seating, with its hospitality, and what it offers with both GlobeLife [Field] and Choctaw [Stadium] adjacent to it … it can be one of the most magnificent FIFA World Cup experiences in history,” Miller said.
The work doesn't center around just AT&T Stadium, either. Bringing the World Cup to North Texas offers opportunities for surrounding facilities, such as FC Dallas' Toyota Stadium, to get in on the action, too.
In the coming years, facilities will start negotiations with soccer federations to partner as "training camp bases," which is something FC Dallas is focusing on.
Miller, who is also the club spokesperson for FC Dallas, told WFAA those discussions are "very fluid" and speculative at this point, but still important to begin to plan for, nonetheless.
“We are already thinking about ‘what does Toyota Stadium look like from a football association standpoint to be that base camp for a national team?’ We are actively involved in that, trying to make sure we are ready from a facility standpoint to host," Miller said. "We’d love to have the German Federation, the Brazilian Federation, any of those. We have 18 soccer fields north of the actual Toyota Stadium pitch, itself, that could serve as a wonderful training ground."
There are a ton of factors that come into play when a national team partners with a training base camp, including proximity to key hospitality venues, hotels and lodging, transportation, culinary options and more. Frisco's Toyota Stadium isn't the only spot that will look to bank off of the training ground aspect of what the World Cup brings, either.
FC Dallas also operates MoneyGram Soccer Park for the City of Dallas.
"It’s a facility that can serve as a training ground for a team that may not be based here in North Texas, but when they’re coming to matches at AT&T Stadium, is a great place to train,” Miller told WFAA.
Other venues listed in Dallas World Cup Committee lineup are the Cotton Bowl, which just recently hosted a match between FC Barcelona and Juventus; Southern Methodist University, Dallas Baptist University, Rail Road Park in Lewisville and more.
“I think North Texas is big enough to where there is room to host multiple nations. The process is still very fluid, but given the size of North Texas, I think there is enough from a training ground standpoint, as well as a hospitality standpoint, to host a couple of different national teams," Miller said. "Whether if it’s in Fort Worth, Dallas proper ... there are a number of opportunities in North Texas to have venues and little micro-cities/micro-communities to serve as a training camp for a national team.”
Soccer fans from around the world will also have the unique opportunity to revel in U.S. soccer history with the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the south end of Toyota Stadium. Opened in November 2018, the hall features an array of soccer relics, including all four women's World Cup trophies won by the U.S.
“We absolutely see this as a tourist destination. We’ve had visitors from all 52 states [and territories] and I’m not sure the country count. Everybody wants to go to Cooperstown to see the baseball Hall of Fame. Everybody wants to go to Canton to see the football Hall of Fame. We see [Toyota Stadium] as a destination for soccer fans," Miller told WFAA. “What better place for a World Cup fan to visit because we house all four [U.S.] Women’s World Cup trophies and hope to add a men’s trophy to the case at some point.”
Meantime, all eyes shift to the upcoming World Cup in November in Qatar. The opening match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup – host Qatar vs. Ecuador – is set for Monday, November 21.
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