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Seattle could generate $90-100 million as host of 2026 World Cup matches

Visit Seattle said the city could generate between $90-100 million in economic activity depending on the number of games Seattle is slated to host.

SEATTLE — The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) announced Seattle will be among the cities hosting 2026 World Cup matches.

It's a bid that was in the making since 2015 and one that involves a partnership between the private and public sectors. 

"We're talking about a global event," said Markham McIntyre, Interim Director of Seattle's Office of Economic Development. "It's kind of like having a Super Bowl for each one of these games."

While the news is good for soccer fans, its impact on the entire city will be felt.

Visit Seattle said being a host city could generate between $90-100 million in economic activity depending on the number of games Seattle is selected to host.

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But the big question is can Seattle handle so many people at once? 

Between Seattle's new waterfront and the light rail expansion to the new international arrivals facility at Sea-Tac, McIntyre said Seattle is finally in a place to be able to successfully host major events like the World Cup. 

"We've been kind of in a reactive cycle for a while but this might be an example of us finally getting out of it and having set up a bunch of assets in a sequence to put us put us on a global stage," McIntyre said.

Tourism is a big part of that. 

"Where they'll stay, where they'll eat, where they will be while they're here in Seattle - that all is part of the planning," said Kelly Saling, SVP and Chief Sales Officer at Visit Seattle. 

Visit Seattle estimates needing 10,000 hotel rooms within a two-hour drive of Lumen Field. So far 6,000 hotel rooms have already been booked despite the four-year gap before the start of the 2026 World Cup. 

According to Visit Seattle, tourism offsets taxes by $1,000 a year per household in King County. 

“There were 3.5 billion viewers of the 2018 Cup and that type of exposure for our beautiful Emerald City is incredible," Saling said. "Many of the viewers have never been to the United States, much less Seattle and now we get to cement that impression for how truly special this place is.”

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