Why Baltimore and D.C. Should Host the 2026 World Cup

Maryland and the District of Columbia are hoping to get good news on June 16 when FIFA announces the host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. 

There will be a total of 16 host cities for the tournament with 10 coming from the U.S., three from Canada, and three from Mexico. 

The US cities vying for a host spot besides Washington D.C./Baltimore are Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. 

Places like Dallas, New York/New Jersey, and Los Angeles are all basically guaranteed picks, leaving the rest of the cities sweating it out.

The 2026 World Cup will be the second time that the United States has hosted the men’s tournament with the first being in 1994. 

Joint Bid Is The Key

Baltimore was unlikely to be chosen as a solo bid, but those chances went up when the city joined forces with D.C. for a joint bid. The joint bid is a best-case scenario for both of these cities as they need each other to have any shot at getting the bid.

The proposed plan is to have the games held in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium. DC would not host any games but it would host a FIFA Fan Festival at the National Mall.

Historically, capital cities have hosted World Cup games, but DC’s bid was in question with FIFA’s concerns over the condition of FedEx Field. Games being played in Baltimore just might be what was needed to push the bid over the edge. It would allow FIFA to represent the capital city without lackluster stadium conditions.

M&T Bank Stadium

The stadium is one of the best parts of Baltimore’s bid. M&T Bank Stadium has a 71,008 capacity and it underwent a three-year, $120 million renovation that was completed in 2019. 

It included adding new video displays and sound systems, easier access to the upper seating areas with escalators and elevators, and more. 

The stadium has a bigger capacity than eight of the other potential hosts. 

Baltimore isn’t a stranger to hosting soccer matches having hosted club friendlies and international competitions. In July, the city will host The Charm City match between Arsenal and Everton.

Travel To And From Baltimore Is Easy

Another strong reason for Baltimore to host some games is the proximity to the airport. From BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport it’s 10 miles and about 15 minutes away from M&T Bank, making it fairly easy for fans to travel to the area. It’s not the biggest airport, but it has 650 flights a day with both domestic and international travel available.

Baltimore also has quite a few hotel options, including some within a one-mile radius of the stadium. It’s about 40 miles from DC so soccer fans in the area could easily make travel plans to attend games in person or the official watch parties. 

M&T Bank Stadium is in the middle of the city surrounded by great bars, restaurants, and activities for fans to enjoy. There’s also more development being added to the area starting with a new Topgolf location that is set to open this year. 

For Baltimore and DC getting to host a premier sporting event would have a major impact on the cities, bringing in a ton of revenue. It’s a huge opportunity for Baltimore and DC that became a little more likely thanks to the joint bid.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

About the Author

Kayleigh Toney

Kayleigh Toney is a Virginia-based freelance sports writer at Maryland Sharp. She’s an avid NWSL and USWNT fan and a lifelong Virginia Tech Hokie.