NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville is taking another huge step forward, as it vies to be one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup. Landing the tournament could mean thousands of international soccer fans descending on Music City and huge economic activity that comes with it.
FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, plans to tour Nissan Stadium this July. “Holding stadium discussions with FIFA is a key step forward, and as one of the smaller markets, we are honored to still be in the hunt. We couldn’t ask for a better partner than the Tennessee Titans as we continue to push Nashville’s bid ahead. We are confident that the stadium and city can host a successful World Cup match," said Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.
FIFA was supposed to pick their host cities last year and then the pandemic hit.
Nashville is still considered an underdog in this process. The city is one of the smallest of the 17 U.S. cities vying for just 10 spots. But we do boast an advantage that could leave others green with envy.
"The fact that you have a natural grass stadium would be a big benefit, because I believe the rules are the World Cup has to be played on grass, not on turf," said one soccer fan we spoke to, traveling through Nashville as they head to another travel soccer tournament. "I think it’d be a great city. It’s a great location, lots of fun things for fans to come and see."
The Tennessee Titans, who operate Nissan Stadium, are also helping the Nashville CVC as they pitch to FIFA and U.S. Soccer. "We are honored that Nashville and Nissan Stadium are being considered as a host venue for the World Cup. World-class soccer has shined at Nissan Stadium on several occasions, and we’re excited by the opportunity to place our facility and our city on a global stage," said Tennessee Titans President and CEO Burke Nihill. "Certainly, Nashville has shown time and time again that it was tailor-made for big events, with the 2019 NFL Draft being the latest example of an event that surpassed everyone’s expectations, while also setting a new standard for how the event will be done and judged in the future. We greatly enjoyed our conversation with FIFA and U.S. Soccer and look forward to continuing discussion.”
The tournament will be jointly hosted by 16 cities the United States, Mexico and Canada. It will consist of 60 matches, including the quarterfinals, semi-finals, and the final. Ten U.S. cities will host matches, neighboring Canada and Mexico will split the other six host cities. The tournament will be the first hosted by three nations.
After FIFA makes a visit in July, they're expected to announce the official host cities in the final months of 2021.