Costs were a factor in the decision for Las Vegas to drop its pursuit of 2026 World Cup matches, according to recent comments from an official.
When it was presented last year, a broad list of venues across the United States, Canada, and Mexico that could possibly host 2026 World Cup matches included the upcoming Las Vegas stadium. Currently under construction at a site west of Mandalay Bay, the $1.8 billion stadium is set to open for the relocating Oakland Raiders in time for the 2020 NFL season. The stadium is planned as the home of the Raiders and UNLV football, but it is also expected to be used as a selling point to lure major events to Las Vegas.
Aside from the stadium, Las Vegas would seemingly have other advantages in hosting the World Cup–including plenty of hotels, a strong local soccer scene, and a major international airport. While officials did explore ways to bring the 2026 World Cup to the city, they ultimately dropped the pursuit. Cost concerns were a factor in that decision, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Hill, who noted that some of FIFA’s requirements were more elaborate than initially anticipated. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Hill said Las Vegas would have been required to provide more than $100 million in improvements to host one or more preliminary-round group games.
The city expressed interest in hosting games because it would have the new stadium, abundant hotel-room inventory and extensive international air routes to and from McCarran International Airport to accommodate teams, FIFA officials, media and soccer fans.
But FIFA requirements for host cities were far more extensive than originally envisioned.
The requirements included providing two outdoor venues — each capable of seating 20,000 people to watch every tournament game on a big screen at no cost, Hill said. The city also would have had to provide secure world-class practice facilities shielded from the public to teams that would be competing in games played in Las Vegas.
The 2026 World Cup will feature 80 scheduled matches spread out among the three countries, including 60 in the United States and 10 each in Mexico and Canada. A total of 16 cities across the three counties will host the matches, though the current list of candidate cities stands at 23. It is expected that seven of the 17 options in the United States will be dropped to make the final list, with those decisions to be made in the coming years.
As for Las Vegas, the stadium is still likely to be used for other major events in the absence of the 2026 World Cup. A Super Bowl figures to be an option at some point, even though the NFL recently awarded games in 2023 and 2024 to Arizona and New Orleans, respectively.
Rendering courtesy MANICA Architecture.