It seems like a no-brainer.
The world’s biggest sporting event being hosted by the world’s biggest sports stadium?
Arlington’s AT&T Stadium is one of 17 U.S. cities vying to be one of 10 host cities. There are also three cities each in Canada and Mexico hoping to host World Cup 2026 games.
North Texas hopes to host the highest match level, which includes semifinals and final. The Dallas Sports Commission and FC Dallas have helped lead the drive to bring the World Cup back to the area for the first time since 1994. Those games were played at the Cotton Bowl. The deepest game in the tournament played at the Cotton Bowl was a quarterfinal match with Brazil beating Netherlands 3-2.
Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones was joined at a press conference with members of the FIFA delegation, the Dallas Sports Commission, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker and Arlington Mayor Jim Ross.
The 17 U.S. regions/cities in contention to host besides North Texas include Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, Miami, San Francisco/Bay area, Seattle, Boston, Denver, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington D.C., Nashville, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Orlando. Sixteen North American cities, including in Canada and Mexico, will eventually be named a host.
The Dallas Sports Commission is pushing for the the top matches, plus hosting the International Broadcast Center.
The biggest hangup with AT&T Stadium is whether FIFA is convinced the field of play, with real grass, will be up to their standards.
“We know that youth soccer in this area is very strong,” FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani said. “Although the other football dominates the headlines as we know, our football also plays a pretty prominent role in the society of Texas.”
Jones said FIFA hasn’t offered any feedback on potential issues with the venue.
“So far, we haven’t been told of any of our deficiencies that we need to fix,” he said. “But certainly we’re proud of this place, we’re proud of AT&T Stadium and our partners. We do think this region is really savvy at hosting big-time events, whether it’s Final Fours, NCAA men’s football championships, All-Stars games. Super Bowls, we’ve done so much of it.”
Jones credited the local mayors and politicians for getting behind the effort.
“They understand business and so I think it just gives us a great opportunity to pull it off,” he said. “We’ll have to see if they have any concerns.”
Jones hopes that experience helps sway FIFA.
“We have HKS, the same architects who built the building, helping us look at this and how we’d pull it off and do it in a way they’d be comfortable that we’ll provide a world class field for a world class event,” he said.
Jones said his memories of the World Cup games at the Cotton Bowl are a little fuzzy because “we were laser focused on the team at the time.”
“What I remember the most is just how amazing [the event is] and what a huge following there is for soccer in the world,” he said. “It would just be amazing to be a part of it.”
FIFA representatives have been visiting potential hosts since July. They first inspected North Texas last month. Their official decision is likely to be made in 2022.