Could AT&T Stadium host FIFA World Cup matches? We’ll find out next month

·3 min read
Amanda McCoy/amccoy@star-telegram.com

AT&T Stadium has hosted countless Dallas Cowboys games, the NCAA Final Four, concerts and even a Super Bowl. Being part of the world’s biggest sporting event could be next. Again.

Dallas is one of 17 U.S. cities vying to host matches for the 2026 World Cup. FIFA, the Federation International Football Association, will announce its selection next month.

The quadrennial event has traditionally been hosted by one country until 2002 when it was jointly held in Japan and South Korea. The 2026 edition will be the 23rd playing of the world’s premiere soccer tournament and will be hosted jointly — for the first time — by three nations. Hosting duties will be split between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

The World Cup is the most-watched sporting event in the world. For context: More than 3.5 billion people tuned in to the 2018 World Cup in Russia — a little over a billion watched France knock off Croatia in the final, according to fifa.com. By comparison, roughly a 112 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl on television and on streaming devices, according to nfl.com.

The other U.S. cities in contention are: Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC/Baltimore.

The joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup was unveiled in 2017. Qatar is hosting the tournament later this year.

FIFA will officially announce the cities for each host country on June 16. Only three cities are listed each for Canada and Mexico, compared to the 17 for the U.S. Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver have more or less been selected to host matches in Canada. Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey are most likely the three sites in Mexico.

If Dallas is selected as a host city, it wouldn’t be the first time it World Cup matches featured in North Texas. The U.S. last hosted the World Cup in 1994, where Dallas’ Cotton Bowl was one of the venues. That summer more than 3.5 million fans swarmed U.S. stadiums to watch the world’s best sides duke it out, according to statista.com.

FIFA officials visited potential World Cup cities in 2021, stopping by AT&T Stadium in October and meeting with Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, Arlington Mayor Jim Ross and Stephen Jones, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president.

At the time, Jones said FIFA hadn’t offered any feedback on potential venue issues, but said they would be proud to host matches at the Arlington facility.

One of the biggest hang-ups with AT&T Stadium will likely be it’s turf field since traditionally, FIFA World Cup games are played on natural grass fields. The stadium will have to adapt to the conditions if they are chosen as a venue.

The 2026 World Cup will feature an expanded field of 48 teams, 16 more than the 32 sides that qualified for the tournament in Qatar later this year. It will also have twice as many venues (16) as the Qatar edition (8).

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