Update, March 16: Seattle is one step closer to becoming a host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The United States Soccer Federation, which is submitting a united bid to host the competition, has whittled down the potential host cities in Canada, the United States, and Mexico to just 23, and Seattle, along with other cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston, made the cut.
In statements, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine both referred to Seattle as a soccer destination.
Seattle is North America’s best soccer town, and we are thrilled to be one of the finalists to help represent North America as part of the largest World Cup ever held,” said Durkan on Thursday. “We’re ready to welcome teams and visitors from across the globe to the Emerald City.”
“We strongly encourage FIFA and the United Bid Committee to recognize our unique, welcoming, soccer-frenzied culture,” added Constantine on Friday morning. “Our metropolitan region is home to a passionate soccer community, woven together by generations of homegrown fans and enthusiasts from across the globe, all eager for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Original article, January 17:
Seattle is, increasingly, a soccer town. At just a decade old, the Seattle Sounders won their first MLS cup in 2016 and contended for the title again just this last season. But even bigger is the fan base: In 2015, Sounders fans broke MLS attendance records with average game attendance of more than 44,000.
So on some level, new mayor Jenny Durkan’s drive to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, an international soccer competition watched by billions every time it rolls around, in Seattle makes sense. And the Seattle City Council seems to agree, voting unanimously to support a bid to host the event on Tuesday.
“As part of the United Bid of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, our City will aggressively compete to be one of at least a dozen cities that host the 2026 World Cup,” said Durkan in a statement following the City Council’s vote. “It would be an unprecedented opportunity for our City, our fans, and our region’s economy.”
“The biggest sporting event in the world,” said Durkan, “should be hosted by a world-class city like Seattle.”
Back in October, Seattle was selected as one of 32 North American cities that could potentially host the 2026 event—one of 25 in the United States. The City Council vote allows the city to formally move forward with soliciting the hosting gig.
Hosting the World Cup comes with a massive influx of tourism. When Brazil hosted the competition in 2014, it brought 6.5 million tourists to the country, and more than 3 million tickets have already been requested for the 2018 cup in Russia. There are just over 36,000 hotel rooms in King County. Service industry labor standards and police overtime, Seattle Met points out, are another issue the city would have to address.
That’s not to say Seattle couldn’t handle it; we’d just have a lot of planning to do in the next eight years.
In her statement, Durkan said that we’re “ready to welcome teams and visitors from across the globe to the Emerald City.”
FIFA is expected to make their host city selection in June.
This article has been corrected since its original publication to clarify FIFA World Cup timing.
- Did Seattle Jump the Gun on a World Cup Bid? [Seattle Met]