Why Baltimore/DC Was Denied World Cup 2026 Games
There have been lots of opinions the last few days on why FIFA didn’t choose Baltimore/DC to host games in the 2026 World Cup. The most obvious reason is FedEx Field situation and Dan Snyder. This is why Washington DC joined Baltimore’s effort to host. Let’s put that aside and work with the U.S. cities that were chosen. Los Angeles, NY/NJ, and Dallas were locks to be selected. That leaves Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, KC, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay area.
MLS was definitely a factor. Atlanta and Seattle routinely pack MLS games that are played in NFL stadiums plus their locations are separated from the other candidates. Dallas has AT&T Stadium which has a ton of bells & whistles plus a strong soccer history so that makes sense. Houston and Miami are close to the border which means they are great candidates for games involving Mexico, and Latin America countries. That leaves San Francisco, KC, Boston, and Philadelphia.
The name Lamar Hunt is legendary in soccer circles. He has owned several teams and done a lot to grow the game. So much so that the winner of the U.S Open Cup gets that Lamar Hunt trophy. The Open Cup is the oldest tournament in the US and is like the FA Cup in England where a team like small local team like Christos has a chance to play teams from the USL and MLS. Also, Chicago and Minneapolis withdrew their bids early in the process. That makes Kansas City a fit.
There is a large area between Seattle and Los Angeles which gets filled by selecting San Franscisco. Levis Stadium is relatively new. The downside is it’s in Santa Clara but still gives fans in that area a chance to see games. They have also supported the San Jose MLS franchise since the beginning.
The Linc in Philadelphia is easily accessible by 95 or the airport. It has hosted many big events. The city supports the Union of MLS and is full of history and can handle big crowds easily.
We are down to Boston vs Baltimore/DC. Several soccer insiders have said it came down to these two cities and the decision wasn’t made until Thursday morning. The cities were announced that evening. Baltimore/DC has the advantage in stadium location because M&T is located in the city while Gillette is south of Boston in Foxborough and actually closer to Providence Rhode Island. There is one road in and out but there are restaurants and other things to do at the stadium while you wait out traffic. The downside for Baltimore is public transportation. The light rail and subway are woefully inadequate to move large crowds around the city and there aren’t as many hotels as the other cities.
A key figure in this comparison is Robert Kraft. He is best known as the owner of the Patriots but also owns the Revolution of MLS. Owning the Revs is a big deal because it put him on the soccer landscape. He was the honorary chairman of the bid to get the Cup awarded to the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. A popular phrase in business is “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Kraft knows a lot of powerful people including the President of FIFA. Those relationships tipped the scale in Boston’s favor.
If you love soccer, go watch Arensal and Everton when they play in Baltimore this summer. Also let’s work on getting a USL team for the area. There have been rumors of it for years but nothing more than that.