SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Bay Area Host Committee gathered virtually earlier today with FIFA and U.S. Soccer to review regional plans to serve as one of a planned 10 host communities in the United States for the 2026 FIFA World Cup™. The meeting with FIFA and U.S. Soccer followed a virtual Candidate Host Community Workshop staged by the two governing bodies of soccer on July 7th. The United Bid of Canada, Mexico, and the United States was selected to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup™ in June 2018. The Bay Area stands among the 17 United States finalists working to earn hosting rights as the region did for the 1994 FIFA World Cup™, the United States’ only previous time hosting the event.
The presentation to FIFA by the Bay Area Host Committee featured the participation of Honorary Chair Condoleezza Rice – the former United States Secretary of State – who helped convey the Bay Area attributes included by the United Bid Committee in the group’s winning bid to FIFA in 2018. Today’s one-on-one meeting marked the Bay Area team’s first opportunity to directly present its hosting vision to the official selection committee. In its presentation, the Host Committee highlighted the Bay Area’s established history hosting visitors from around the world for major events, its world-class venues for competition and training sites such as Levi’s® Stadium and Earthquakes Stadium, and the region’s first-class lodging, hospitality, and cultural attractions for competitors and fans alike.
“The FIFA World Cup is the ultimate unifier in international sport. I am honored to have the opportunity to champion the Bay Area’s rich cultural offerings, innovative spirit and passion for hosting premier events to the FIFA delegation – and excited to work with U.S. Soccer, FIFA, and our community leaders to harness the power of this event to encourage positive social change through various legacy initiatives,” said Secretary Rice. “I am confident the Bay Area will make an incredible host for the tens of thousands of national and international visitors that will travel to celebrate the most prestigious soccer competition in the world.”
The Bay Area Host Committee is led by Executive Director Patricia Ernstrom and includes, in addition to Secretary Rice, representatives from the San Francisco 49ers, San Jose Earthquakes, and other individuals from the Bay Area’s soccer and leadership communities who will be announced in the coming months.
“The Bay Area is excited to be one of the 17 Candidate Host Communities in the United States for the 2026 FIFA World Cup™. We are extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of hosting matches in our community and welcoming the world to Northern California,” said Ernstrom. “We look forward to working with FIFA, U.S. Soccer, and the various community stakeholders in our region over the coming months to showcase our qualifications as a Premier Host Community.”
The crown jewel of the Bay Area’s Host Community bid is Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the home of the San Francisco 49ers. The venue received the second-highest technical evaluation score from FIFA during the initial review process back in 2018. In just six years of operations, Levi’s Stadium has a rich history of staging world-class events that is unrivaled among outdoor venues in the United States during that time.
“Levi’s Stadium was built to host the world’s biggest sports and entertainment events and there simply is no event larger than the FIFA World Cup™,” said 49ers President Al Guido. “The San Francisco Bay Area is globally recognized as one of the world’s most popular destinations with a successful history of hosting epic events including the first FIFA World Cup™ in this country, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup™, and two Super Bowls. This, along with being a global tech and innovation epicenter, makes us as qualified as any city to host this storied event.”
Since opening in 2014, the venue has hosted Super Bowl 50, the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship, and number of international soccer events including the 2016 Copa America Centenario, 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and several International Champions Cup events. The overall attendance record for Levi’s Stadium is 76,976, set at WrestleMania 31 in 2015, while the largest soccer crowd recorded at the venue was 70,547 for a Copa America Centenario match between Mexico and Chile.
“The San Jose Earthquakes and the sport of soccer have a legacy in the Bay Area that goes back nearly five decades,” said Earthquakes Chief Operating Officer Jared Shawlee. “We’re seen first-hand the support that our community has not only for our club, but also the vast number of international matches that have taken place here over the years. We’re extremely excited about our involvement with this bid and are confident the world will see what the sport of soccer means to the Bay Area.”
In 1994, the Bay Area hosted six matches during the FIFA World CupTM at Stanford Stadium, including a quarterfinal match between Romania and Sweden, which saw 83,500 fans in attendance. Additionally, Stanford Stadium hosted a semi-final match during the 1999 FIFA Women’s World CupTM, further proving the Bay Area’s capability to host large scale international tournaments.
The FIFA Council is expected to select the final 10 U.S. host cities in 2021, along with confirming the final host cities in Canada and Mexico. The final timetable of those decisions is to be determined in coming months based on the COVID-19 implications on travel. The 2026 FIFA World CupTM will mark the first time three nations will co-host the event and the first in which 48 teams from around globe will compete for soccer’s ultimate competition, up from the 32 teams set to compete in the 2022 FIFA World CupTM in Qatar.
For more details and to register support for the Bay Area Host Committee’s efforts, fans of the Bay Area and soccer should visit bayarea2026.com which launched today in support of the region’s bid to be selected as a host community for the 2026 FIFA World CupTM.