New Jersey and New York City officials made a formal, in-person pitch to FIFA officials to hold the 2026 World Cup at MetLife Stadium, during a tour on Sept. 21.
On Tuesday, the delegation visited MetLife Stadium, where they were received by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other stadium executives. The 82,500-seat arena is arguably one of the largest – if not the largest – on the East Coast, and state and local officials say they have that going for them should FIFA pick the stadium for its World Cup final.
“We are incredibly excited to host the FIFA delegation and show off what we believe is the best stadium in the country,” reads a statement from Murphy. “As an avid soccer fan, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to host the world’s greatest game on the world’s biggest stage.”
The governor’s wife, Tammy Murphy, owns the women’s soccer team previously called Sky Blue FC, and now called NJ/NY Gotham FC.
MetLife Stadium is going up against a number other stadiums across the nation – 17 altogether – and several in the Northeast, including Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
During their tours of those locations, FIFA officials have said that each has a litany of positive attributes that would make them an ideal choice.
FIFA’s chief tournament and events officer Colin Smith said the delegation was looking at other aspects beyond strictly the stadium: access to airports and transportation, waste management, and accommodations.
Local officials in New Jersey argue the region has all of that: three major airports, training facilities up and down the state and in southern New York, and the media capital that is New York City.
And they estimate that the World Cup taking place in New Jersey could bring in as much as $500 million in local economic activity.
“Our world-class stadium is the perfect showcase for the greatest players and the biggest global sporting event taking place in New Jersey,” reads a Sept. 21 statement from Ron VanDeVeen, the stadium’s president and chief executive officer.
MetLife hosted the world cup in 1994 and the Super Bowl in 2014. But the latter event was marred by New Jersey Transit delays for the thousands of patrons who opted to use the trains to get to the stadium. The beleaguered statewide transit agency is now looking at how to ramp up train capacity ahead of the 2026 event, and any other major concerts or sporting events.
“We need to think about how these past scenarios, both good and bad, of moving people from major events, how do we avoid any of the issues that we’ve run into in the past so that we can provide great experiences for the great events that we know how to run,” Jim Kirkos, head of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, said in a February interview. “Outside of that element, the Super Bowl was flawless.”l