DALLAS — The World Cup may just be on its way to North Texas, and the Dallas Sports Commission is playing big in their bid to bring more than just games to the D-FW area.
The Dallas Sports Commission’s bid is under consideration along with 17 other American cities to host games during the 2026 World Cup.
Three Canadian cities -- Edmondton, Montreal, and Vancouver -- and three Mexican cities -- Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey -- have already been selected. Ten of the 17 American cities will round out the 16 host cities for 2026.
But Dallas isn’t just aiming to be a destination for a few games. In their latest meeting with FIFA Friday morning, the Dallas Sports Commission laid out plans to be a major hub for the 2026 World Cup, including possible high-level games like quarterfinals, semifinals, and the Cup Final, as well as designs on being the FIFA headquarters and broadcast center.
“We like to do things big here in Dallas,” said Monica Paul, executive director of the Dallas Sports Commission. “We’re not approaching this like ‘oh, we want one or two matches’. No, we want five or six group stage matches, we want maybe a quarterfinal, give us [the] final. Yeah, we want to be a hub.”
Being a hub – or possibly the hub – could mean a lot of things.
“We’d love to be FIFA headquarters,” Paul said. “We want that international broadcast center.”
Certainly North Texas has experience hosting major events, including Super Bowl XLV in 2011, the Final Four in 2014, the Winter Classic in 2020, and more. There is also ample experience hosting major soccer events – first and foremost the World Cup in 1994. And there have been several CONCACAF events and other international soccer matches played at AT&T Stadium over the 12-year lifespan of the venue.
Friday’s meeting with FIFA was the next big step for the Dallas bid. The initial pitch was made back in July 2020. Last month, the international soccer organization announced the trimmed down list of candidate cities, and said the winning bids will be known during the final quarter of 2021. In the meantime, the Dallas Sports Commission isn’t wasting any time making sure FIFA knows they are serious.
While AT&T Stadium will be the main thrust of Dallas’ plan to host games, the Cotton Bowl will also play a major role as well as hosting a game or two, in addition to a series of games Paul said they hope will take place in Arlington.
“We have proposed the Cotton Bowl as a base camp, or a training venue,” Paul said, noting the plans to renovate Fair Park in the coming years. “We have proposed Fair Park as the location of the international broadcast center. That could mean 10,000-plus media here, in our market, from January through July or August.”
There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the presentation from the DSC is robust.
“Really looking forward to site visits,” Paul said. “I think that’s a key step, where FIFA can actually come here, and see what our great region has to offer.”
The next meeting between FIFA and the Dallas group will come in April or May, and they’ll discuss events beyond the games themselves, such as FanFest events, transportation, airports, and the like.
In addition, they’ll focus on a human rights initiative that will be instrumental leading up to and throughout the World Cup. That plan is due at the end of June.
“What type of lasting legacy and overall impact the World Cup can lend for the Dallas area,” Paul said, is the real thrust of the plan. “We really want to drive education, and make some positive change.”