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  • Writer's pictureRiley Day

MetLife Stadium Selected to Host 2026 World Cup Final

By: Riley Day

February 20, 2024


Photo Credit: Joe Pompliano on X

On February 4th, FIFA announced the 2026 World Cup schedule, with the tournament being jointly hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Much to the chagrin of many soccer fans in America, MetLife Stadium (home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets, respectively) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, was selected to host the 2026 World Cup Final. The venue was chosen despite the fact that AT&T Stadium in Dallas and SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, the other two top contenders to host the final, trump MetLife in terms of innovation, technology, and overall fan experience. 


Experts have unanimously agreed that this plan comes with a lot of risk. The possibility of extreme weather and potential fan accessibility issues are both significant concerns. Original proposals for MetLife Stadium, which was constructed between 2008 and 2010, included a roof. However, this proposal fell through because of funding issues, and today, MetLife is an open-air, multi-purpose stadium as a result. The final will take place in July of 2026, and factors such as rain and extreme heat could be at play as a result. Thus far, every World Cup Final during the 21st century has been held at a stadium with roofing capabilities, so FIFA is entering relatively uncharted territory with this decision. 


Furthermore, the lack of adequate public transportation outside of personal vehicles is an issue which plagues American infrastructure. Simply put, it can be difficult to access American stadiums without driving a car, and considering the amount of tourists which will flock to the tri-state area of the Northeast to attend the World Cup Final, this is another issue which must be addressed. According to NewJersey.com, their public transit system will operate “on steroids” during the World Cup, with special train service at the Meadowlands Rail Station, which is located right next to the stadium. This rail service exclusively operates during events with an anticipated attendance of over 50,000 people. However, it can be difficult to trust this system based on past performance history. Super Bowl XLVIII and WrestleMania 35 were both “epic fails on the rails.” In fact, NJ.com reported wait times of over two hours for fans attempting to journey from New York’s Penn Station to MetLife to see those events. Over 28,000 train tickets were purchased for the Super Bowl hosted at the venue in 2014, and the system was ill-equipped to handle those kinds of numbers. According to The New York Times, New Jersey state legislators have already allocated $35M just to design and plan a dedicated transit system, which will be loosely based on Disney World’s bus system.


Above all, FIFA is a revenue-generating business under the false guise of a “non-profit organization." Holding the World Cup Final at MetLife grants access to the New York and New Jersey markets, hence FIFA’s decision to choose this location for the marquee event of their tournament. Similar to the Big Ten wanting Rutgers to join the conference (albeit on a much smaller scale than the World Cup), having events in densely-populated areas of the country like New York/New Jersey will have a positive effect on overall economic impact. 


There are ten other American cities hosting World Cup matches: Los Angeles and San Francisco in California, Miami, Atlanta, Foxborough (outside of Boston), Kansas City, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, and Seattle. According to a report published by the US Soccer Federation, each host city can expect to see $90 to $480 million dollars in positive economic impact during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.


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