PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is in the running to be a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. More than a dozen cities are competing for 10 spots in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
Philadelphia is one of 16 U.S. cities vying to host World Cup matches in 2026, and a big part of the pitch to FIFA is the pitch at Lincoln Financial Field.READ MORE: Montgomery County Officer Grazed By Bullet During Philly’s 4th Of July Fireworks Feels ‘Lucky’ To Walk Away From Incident
That’s how soccer fans refer to the playing field.
The pristine natural grass is ideal for world-class soccer stars, and with nearly 70,000 seats, the stadium itself is plenty big enough.
— Ross DiMattei CBS-3 (@RossDiMattei) June 16, 2022
The Linc has hosted some of the biggest soccer events in the past, including the CONCACAF Gold Cup, The Copa América Centenario, and the Women’s World Cup.
Not to mention, Philadelphia is full of soccer fans with crowds that consistently show up for major soccer matches every year.
We caught up with a couple of those fans who are in favor of hosting because the World Cup would bring a boost to the local economy.
“When you host a big event of that nature, it’s always great for the economy and it brings a lot into the city and I think it’d be great for the city of Philly from a socioeconomic standpoint,” Abdulla Khawhaa said.
“By the people, the people coming. I know the stadium is gonna be jam-packed. They’re gonna be buying stuff. Hotels and Ubers and Lyfts and cabs,” Herman Boulware said.
“This is the biggest thing in sports, let alone soccer,” Matt Gendaszek said.
Gendaszek is among the most passionate soccer fans in the city. He says hosting the World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow the game here at home.
“The opportunity to interact with soccer fans from all over the world, to showcase our city, and the opportunity to see the best players playing at Lincoln Financial Field, that’s what has me excited,” Gendaszek said.READ MORE: All Adoption Fees $5 At Philadelphia PSPCA This Saturday
“We feel that we’ve made a compelling case for the city,” Meg Kane, the manager of bid operations for Philadelphia Soccer 2026, said.
Kane is one of the brains behind the bid.
Between past soccer tournaments, the NFL draft, and multiple championship parades, she says the city has proven it has the facilities and infrastructure to host one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
“When you look at everything that we can do, whether it’s hotel accommodations to public transportation to restaurants to arts and culture, everything that Philadelphia does well, in addition to being an amazing sports town, it really comes together in a perfect way for us to be able to host,” Kane said.
If the bid is successful, Kane says we can expect about half a million people to visit the city, bringing an economic boost to the tune of around $250 million dollars.
“We’ll also be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the United States, the Major League All-Star Game will be here, so this will be a major opportunity for Philadelphia to have tourism and hospitality really bounce back in a post-COVID environment,” Meg Kane, the manager of bid operations for Philadelphia Soccer 2026, said.
Gregg Caren, the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, echoed similar sentiments made by Kane.
“This is bigger than two or three Super Bowls together,” Caren said. “This means $460 million of economic impact. What does that mean? Jobs, hotels full, restaurants full, tax revenue for the city, it’s great for everybody that lives and works in this great city of ours.”
There will be a watch party Thursday afternoon at Love Park starting at 3 p.m. leading up to the big announcement at 5 p.m.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Zoo Giving Visitors Chance To Feed Giraffes
Of the 16 cities that are competing, 10-12 of them are expected to be named host cities.