Just under a month after Philadelphia was officially listed as a potential 2026 World Cup host venue, the bid committee announced Thursday that the city has officially submitted its bid to stage games in the tournament at Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia is one of 41 cities across the United States, Mexico and Canada that formally submitted bids to be hosts, after the bid committee sent solicitations to 44 cities across the continent.
The three cities now off the board are Calgary, Green Bay and San Diego. The first two of those are no surprise, though it was fun to dream of World Cup games at Lambeau Field. It is somewhat surprising to see San Diego out, since the city is a soccer hotbed, but it's likely an admission that 50-year-old Qualcomm Stadium won't be renovated or replaced in time.
Two cities which initially had multiple stadia under consideration have reduced their bids to one venue.
Toronto has withdrawn the Rogers Centre, a matter of pragmatism since it's the home of Major League Baseball's Blue Jays. (The venue's title sponsor is also a fierce rival of the company that owns Canadian broadcast rights for the World Cup.) BMO Field, home of MLS' Toronto FC, will be the city's site. It will have to be expanded from its current capacity, which is 28,052 for soccer games and 36,000 for big events with temporary bleachers.
The minimum capacity required to host World Cup games is 40,000 — and that's just for the group stage. Requirements for other stages of the tournament are higher, and the venues for the opening game and final must seat at least 80,000.
Montreal has withdrawn Stade Saputo, the Impact's home, as it would have to be expanded dramatically from its current capacity of 20,801 — and there isn't much room to build on its site. The city is bidding venerable Olympic Stadium next door. Local officials have already acknowledged that the venue needs modernizing, and hosting the World Cup may be the catalyst to do it.
There will be a further culling of potential venues later this fall, according to bid officials. The final bid will include 20 to 25 venues. It will be sent to FIFA by March 16, 2018. If the bid is successful, the host committee expects to pick "at least 12 locations" to stage games.
"We're thrilled with the submissions that we have received, especially each city's commitment to innovation and sustainability," bid committee executive director John Kristick said in a statement. "We look forward to bringing the best group of candidate host cities together for our official United Bid."
Criteria for selection, according to the bid committee's statement, include "each city's experience hosting major sporting and cultural events, potential venues, transportation infrastructure, available accommodations, environmental protection initiatives and more."
For more information on the bid committee and the cities involved, click here to read the story I wrote when the initial list of 44 cities was announced.
Atlanta: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity 75,000)
Baltimore: M&T Bank Stadium (capacity 71,008)
Birmingham, Ala.: Legion Field (capacity 71,594)
Boston/Foxborough, Mass.: Gillette Stadium (capacity 65,892)
Charlotte, N.C.: Bank of America Stadium (capacity 75,400)
Chicago: Soldier Field, (capacity 61,500)
Cincinnati: Paul Brown Stadium (capacity 65,515)
Cleveland: FirstEnergy Stadium (capacity 68,710)
Dallas: The Cotton Bowl (capacity 92,100); AT&T Stadium (capacity 105,000)
Denver: Sports Authority Field at Mile High (capacity 76,125)
Detroit: Ford Field (capacity 65,000)
Houston: NRG Stadium (capacity 71,500)
Indianapolis, Ind.: Lucas Oil Stadium (capacity 65,700)
Jacksonville, Fla.: EverBank Field (capacity 64,000)
Kansas City, Mo.: Arrowhead Stadium (capacity 76,416)
Las Vegas: New NFL stadium (capacity 72,000)
Los Angeles/Pasasdena: New NFL stadium (capacity 80,000, with potential to expand); Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (capacity will be around 78,500 after 2019 renovation); The Rose Bowl (capacity 87,527)
Miami: Hard Rock Stadium (capacity 65,767)
Minneapolis: U.S. Bank Stadium (capacity 63,000)
Nashville, Tenn.: Nissan Stadium (capacity 69,143)
New Orleans: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (capacity 72,000)
New York/East Rutherford, N.J.: MetLife Stadium (capacity 82,500)
Orlando, Fla.: Camping World Stadium (capacity 65,000)
Philadelphia: Lincoln Financial Field (capacity 69,328)
Phoenix/Glendale, Ariz.: University of Phoenix Stadium (capacity 73,000)
Pittsburgh: Heinz Field (capacity 68,400)
Salt Lake City, Utah: Rice-Eccles Stadium (capacity 45,807)
San Antonio: The Alamodome (capacity 72,000)
San Diego: Qualcomm Stadium (capacity 71,500)
Santa Clara/San Francisco/San Jose, Calif.: Levi's Stadium (capacity 75,000)
Seattle: CenturyLink Field (capacity 69,000)
Tampa, Fla.: Raymond James Stadium (capacity 73,309)
Washington, D.C./Landover, Md.: FedEx Field (capacity 82,000)
Edmonton, Alberta: Commonwealth Stadium (capacity 56,335)
Montreal: Olympic Stadium (capacity 61,004)
Ottawa, Ontario: TD Place Stadium (capacity 24,341*)
Regina, Saskatchewan: Mosaic Stadium (capacity 30,048*)
Toronto: BMO Field (capacity 36,000*)
Vancouver, British Columbia: BC Place (capacity 55,165)
Guadalajara, Jalisco: Estadio Chivas (capacity 45,364)
Mexico City: Estadio Azteca (capacity 87,000)
Monterrey, Nuevo León: Estadio BBVA Bancomer (capacity 52,237)
* – These stadiums would have to be expanded to reach FIFA's requirements.