Atlanta is one step closer to becoming a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
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It’s been picked by a committee crafting what’s called the United Bid. They’re looking for cities across Canada, Mexico and the United States to host the soccer tournament collaboratively.
Dan Corso is president of the Atlanta Sports Council, which is crafting the city’s pitch. He said the explosive success of Atlanta United shows the city already has a soccer fanbase.
“What Atlanta United has done in our community, as far as building the soccer profile, and our experience hosting these big events, we think create a really compelling story as to why Atlanta should be a part of this big event,” he said.
The team has set attendance records during its inaugural season at the brand new Mercedez-Benz Stadium, which was built in-part to host the franchise.
Corso also touted Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport – the busiest in the world for years running – and Atlanta’s large hotel inventory as big selling points.
Winning a bid to host World Cup events could generate lots of revenue for the city, according to Georgia State University economist Bruce Seaman.
He estimates a potential economic benefit of close to $350 million, but warns there are always costs.
“There’s a downside on that regarding what you’ve got to do to secure the population, what you’ve got to do to avoid any negative publicity that might occur for all sorts of reasons. The more visibly you’re on the world stage, that’s for good or for ill,” he said.
If FIFA picks the United Bid at least 12 North American cities will get tapped to host events. The international federation is also considering a hosting bid from Morocco.
FIFA plans to select the winning bid next summer.