The organizers of the United Bid to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to North America announced today the 23 host cities that will be included in the proposal. Among the selected facilities is Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, which was one of the locations used in the 2016 Copa América Centenario. If the joint bid from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is selected by FIFA this June, the Bay Area home to the San Francisco 49ers would be a finalist for the up to 16 host cities that would make the cut.
“Canada, Mexico, and the United States have joined together to deliver a United Bid that offers FIFA and its member associations the power of unity, the promise of certainty, and the potential of extraordinary opportunity,” said John Kristick, Executive Director of the United Bid, in a statement. “We are confident that the combination of our 23 existing world-class stadiums, 150 existing elite training facilities, and our modern and interconnected transportation network can help FIFA to achieve new records for attendance and revenue, which will allow the entire global football community to improve and grow.”
For the first time in the tournament’s history, the 2026 World Cup will feature 48 teams — 12 more than the current number — and the joint North American bid features a plan to play games in all three host countries. The U.S. would feature the majority of host cities, and it’s expected that the World Cup Final would also be played on U.S. soil. Both Canada and Mexico have nominated three cities each in the official bid to FIFA.
Levi’s Stadium has a listed capacity of 68,500, making it one of the smaller venues in the bid, but the facility can accommodate a crowd of more than 70, 000 for soccer. Strengthening the site’s case as a hosting locale, the Bay Area has a solid track record of holding major sporting events. In both the opening game of the 2016 Copa América Centenario, which featured the U.S. national team against that of Colombia, and the tournament’s semifinal match between Chile and Mexico were extremely popular with local soccer fans.
The cost of hosting an mega-event the size of the expanded 2026 World Cup is expected to be vast, and FIFA applies a series of qualifications on host cities that favor soccer’s governing body over local municipalities, and some locations — like Vancouver in Canada and Chicago in the U.S. — have taken their names out of the bid. However, the opportunity to welcome the tournament back to the Bay Area, last played locally at Stanford Stadium in 1994, is one local officials are ready to embrace.
The United Bid’s final 23 candidate host cities
New York/New Jersey
San Francisco Bay Area