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Seattle's Lumen Field chosen as 2026 World Cup site

FIFA's announcement brings the World Cup back to the Pacific Northwest for the first time since the 2003 Women's World Cup.

SEATTLE — Seattle's Lumen Field will be one of 11 stadiums in the United States slated to host matches for the 2026 World Cup, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) announced Thursday afternoon.

The 69,000-seat capacity venue nestled in Seattle's SODO neighborhood will host several matches for the expanded 48-team World Cup.

Lumen Field, which hosts the Seahawks, Sounders and OL Reign during the year, will need to convert its artificial turf to grass suitable for World Cup matches before the prestigious tournament is expected to begin in June 2026.

FIFA's announcement brings the World Cup back to the Pacific Northwest for the first time since Portland hosted matches for the 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cups. The United States last hosted the World Cup in 1994.

The United States, Mexico and Canada will share hosting duties for 2026 World Cup, the first-ever iteration of the tournament with three co-hosts. Sixty games will be played in the U.S., including every match after the quarterfinals when the field is limited to eight teams. Canada and Mexico will host 10 games each.

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Seattle's World Cup bid has been in the making since 2015. Private and public sectors spent over seven years making the case that Seattle is worthy of hosting World Cup matches.

"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."

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

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.

FIFA officials last visited Lumen Field in November 2021 as part of an eight-city tour to decide the final list of host cities for the 2026 tournament. 

The delegation looked at Seattle's infrastructure, including stadiums, training facilities and potential FIFA Fan Festival venues during the visit.

“It was a very thoughtful and thought-provoking presentation that really encapsulated not only what Seattle is but really what it has become,” said FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani following a pitch by city leadership.

Preliminary projections released in 2018 indicated it would cost more than $10 million for the city of Seattle to host World Cup soccer games but city officials said most of the money would be reimbursed or recouped.

The city's memo said FIFA would reimburse Seattle for the stadium, police and field costs.

Here were the other U.S. finalists to host World Cup matches in 2026:

  • AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, Maryland) 
  • Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Empower Field at Mile High (Denver, Colorado)
  • MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey)
  • Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Massachusetts)
  • NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas)
  • SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California) 
  • Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri)
  • Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida)
  • Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Florida)
  • Rose Bowl (Pasadena, California)
  • Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) 
  • Levi's Stadium (Santa Clara, California)

Which countries will play in the 2026 World Cup?

There are six independent soccer federations around the world that send countries to the World Cup.

Here is a breakdown of how many countries qualify for the tournament in each region of the world.

  • Europe: 16 countries
  • Africa: Nine countries
  • Asia: Eight countries
  • North and Central America: Six countries, but U.S., Mexico and Canada are already qualified as hosts
  • South America: Six countries
  • Oceania: One country

These account for 46 of the 48 countries in the World Cup. The final two spots will go to the countries that secure spots by winning a new playoff mini-tournament.

What will the new World Cup format be like? 

The 2026 World Cup will feature a new wrinkle. 

Forty-eight teams will qualify for the tournament, up from the 32-team field used in World Cups since 1998.

There will be 16 groups of three countries, instead of eight groups of four countries in previous World Cups. Each team will play two group stage games, with the top two countries in each grouping advancing to a 32-team single-elimination knockout bracket. 

The new format will add 16 additional World Cup matches, but 32 countries are still guaranteed at least three games in the competition like in previous tournaments.

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