FC Dallas

This North Texas city is in the running to host the FIFA World Cup final in 2026

Mexico fans at AT&T Stadium in 2014, before a match against Ecuador. Arlington's AT&T Stadium is one of just three sites under consideration to host the final match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup tournament, a sports commission official said.
Mexico fans at AT&T Stadium in 2014, before a match against Ecuador. Arlington's AT&T Stadium is one of just three sites under consideration to host the final match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup tournament, a sports commission official said. AP file

Arlington's AT&T Stadium is one of just three sites under consideration to host the final match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup tournament, a sports commission official said.

The final match of the World Cup — a tournament held once every four years — is typically watched by more than 1 billion people on television worldwide, according to soccer's international governing body.

The landmark stadium in the Dallas-Fort Worth region was one of 23 stadiums listed in the winning bid by the United States, Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 games. Although that list of stadiums will be trimmed to 16 facilities during the next couple of years as the games draw closer, AT&T Stadium is widely considered to have a strong chance at hosting not only some of the round-robin games during the tournament, but also a semifinal match or perhaps the final game where the winning team raises the trophy.

"We think we have a legitimate shot at getting the final," said Larry Kelly, director of marketing and communications for the Dallas Sports Commission. That organization is leading the effort to include North Texas in the World Cup events.

When FIFA broadcast its announcement of the winning U.S./Canada/Mexico bid earlier this week, three sites under consideration for hosting the 2026 final match were briefly displayed on a slide show. The sites were Los Angeles (Pasadena's Rose Bowl), New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium) and Dallas (Arlington AT&T Stadium).

Nationally, many pundits are predicting that New York or L.A. could get the final match.

But Kelly says there is no reason why North Texas couldn't host the World Cup final.

"We've had a lot of big, major events at AT&T Stadium over the last five or six years," he said. "We've had the men's (college basketball) Final Four, Wrestlemania, the college football national championship. This area is ready, willing and able to host whatever we are lucky enough to get."

Kelly stressed that it will likely be at least two years before FIFA cuts the list of stadium sites to 16, and some time after that decides which stadiums should host the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final. Typically, FIFA officials tour each stadium site and get briefings from area officials about transportation, security and other issues.

Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said his office stands ready to help any such bid for a World Cup final match.

The region hosted the February 2011 Super Bowl, and during the week leading up to that game the Metroplex was slammed with a historic ice and snowstorm that made travel treacherous. But Morris has long maintained that the region's ability to respond to that once-in-a-century storm — keeping roads open for players and fans, and cameras rolling for hundreds of media outlets — shows the region's determination and grit when it comes to hosting major events.

"We're ready to handle anything that comes our way," Morris said.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said he also was optimistic that his city would be chosen for the World Cup final, although he has not had communication with FIFA officials about the possibility.

"I can't imagine a final or semifinal not coming to the world's best special events center, which is AT&T Stadium," the mayor said.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796; @gdickson
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