2026 World Cup Stadiums - USA / Canada / Mexico

usa canada mexico world cup 2026Contested by the Men’s teams from nations that are members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the FIFA World Cup is seen as the pinnacle of international football. Inaugurated in 1930, the competition takes place every four years and teams have to go through a qualification process in order to earn the right to play in it. When the first version of the World Cup took place in Uruguay in 1950, only thirteen teams took part in it. That was because of the difficulty of travel at the time and only four of those thirteen teams came from Europe. It has grown and grown since those early days and the plan is for the competition to expand to include forty-eight teams from 2026 onwards.

The World Cup in 2026 is primed to be one of the most inclusive and spread out versions of the tournament ever, for reasons other than just the sheer number of teams that will be participating in it. It’s also due to be shared between three different host countries, which is something that hasn’t been attempted before in a World Cup. On this page we’ll be having a look at how the tournament will work, how teams will qualify to play in it and the different stadia that could be used to host matches when the competition gets underway. We’re writing this in 2018, so many of the major decisions have yet to be reached. However, there’s more than enough information out there to make this piece as reliable as it’s possible for it to be.

World Cup 2026 Stadiums and Potential Venues

map showing location of world cup 2026 potential venues

When the final bid was made there were twenty-three potential host cities put forward to FIFA. This will whittled down to sixteen in 2020 or 2021, but here’s a quick look at the stadiums that those final sixteen will be chosen from:

The United States

The US has seventeen of the twenty-three host venues that were initially suggested. Here’s a look at each of them.

The Rose Bowl - California (1)

rose bowl california

Given that the Rose Bowl was the venue for the final of the World Cup when it was hosted by the US in 1994, it’s no major surprise to see its name on the list of possible grounds that will be used in 2026. Located in Pasadena, California, the stadium is the home of the Rose Bowl Game that takes place in American football every year.

Date Opened: 26th of October 1922

Capacity: 90,888

MetLife Stadium - New York (2)

metlife stadium new york

Built eight miles outside of New York City, the MetLife Stadium is the joint-home of the New York Jets and the New York Giants, two of the country’s biggest NFL franchises.

When it first opened its doors in 2010 it was known as the New Meadowlands Stadium, but MetLife, the insurance company, bought the rights to the name the following year. It is one of only two sports venues in the states that hosts two major teams from the same sport, with the Staples Center being the other.

Date Opened: 10th of April 2010

Capacity: 82,500

FedExField - Washington (3)

fedexfield washington
By Rory Finneren (Flickr: FedEx Field Panoramic) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Opened as the Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in 1997, FedExField took on its current moniker in 1999 after it had been purchased by US businessman Daniel Snyder. It is the home of the Washington Redskins and replaced Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

The venue has five different levels for supporters and also has some experience of being used a location for what the Americans would call ‘soccer’. As well as being a venue for the Women's World Cup in 1999, it has also hosted friendly games of teams such as Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Date Opened: 14th of September 1997

Capacity: 82,000

AT&T Stadium - Texas (4)

at and t stadium texas

The AT&T Stadium is the home of the NFL team the Dallas Cowboys and has been ever since it opened in 2009. It’s the host venue for the Cotton Bowl Classic and has been used for football matches in the past, such as two quarter-finals of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

It is a multipurpose building and was envisioned as an entertainment headquarters by the man behind, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. In fact, such is his involvement in the venue that it is occasionally referred to by some as ‘Jerry World’. When the Dallas Cowboys hosted the New York Giants in 2009, more than one hundred and five thousand people watched the game.

Date Opened: 27th of May 2009

Capacity: 80,000

Arrowhead Stadium - Missouri (5)

arrowhead stadium missouri
By Auteur : Mitchell3417Betp at fr.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Located in Kansas City is Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the NFL side the Kansas City Chiefs. Close to the ground is the Kauffman Stadium, which is the home of the baseball team the Kansas City Royals. Together they make up the Truman Sports Complex, which might make it an appealing location for the 2026 World Cup as the other venue could be used as a training ground.

Date Opened: 12th of August 1972

Capacity: 76,416

Broncos Stadium at Mile High - Colorado (6)

broncos stadium at mile high

The name of this stadium tells you pretty much everything that you need to know about it. It’s the home of the National Football League team the Denver Broncos. The ‘Mile High’ part of the name comes from the fact that it sits at a 5,280 feet altitude.

When it first opened it was known as the Invesco Field because of sponsorship, though it has had numerous names over the years. The only football match of note hosted there was when Manchester United played AS Roma in a friendly in 2014.

Date Opened: 17th of August 1999

Capacity: 76,125

NRG Stadium - Texas (7)

nrg stadium texas

The second proposed stadium located in Texas, the NRG Stadium is the home of the Houston Texans of the NFL. The World Cup wouldn’t be the first major event to take place there, given that both the Super Bowl in 2004 and another in 2017 both took place there, as well as Wrestlemania in 2009.

CONCACAF Gold Cup matches were hosted there between 2005 and 2011, so it’s got some experience of being used as a football ground, too. Known as the Reliant Stadium when it was being built, it got its current name when NRG Energy took on sponsorship of the venue in 2000.

Date Opened: 24th of August 2002

Capacity: 72,220

M&T Bank Stadium - Maryland (8)

The multi-surprise venue known as M&T Bank Stadium is where the Baltimore Ravens play their NFL games. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which is the home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, is immediately adjacent to the stadium.

When it was being built the ground was known as the Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards, then in 1999 it became the PSINet Stadium because of sponsorship. PSINet went bankrupt in 2002 and it remained without a sponsored name until M&T Bank took on the responsibility in 2014.

Date Opened: 6th of September 1998

Capacity: 71,008

Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Georgia (9)

mercedes-benz stadium georgia
By elisfkc from Orlando, FL, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

At the time of writing, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is one of the newest stadiums being used in the NFL. It is the home of the Atlanta Falcons and replaced the now demolished Georgia Dome. It is also one of the grounds on the list that is most used to hosting football matches, given that it’s the home of Atlanta United FC who play their games in Major League Soccer.

Two of Atlanta United’s MLS games have been in front of crowds of in excess of seventy thousand, which is the sort of crowd expected for the World Cup. It has a retractable roof and is actually owned by the state of Georgia rather than an independent company.

Date Opened: 26th of August 2017

Capacity: 83,000

Lincoln Financial Field - Pennsylvania (10)

lincoln field pennsylvania

Lincoln Fields in Philadelphia is where both the Philadelphia Eagles and the college team of the Temple Owls play their American football games. It replaced the city’s Veterans Stadium when it opened in 2003 and before it had even opened the naming rights had been sold to the Lincoln Financial Group.

As Philly is located approximately halfway between the Army’s training academy of West Point and the Navy’s in Annapolis, the venue is often used to host the traditional Army-Navy football game.

Date Opened: 3rd of August 2003

Capacity: 69,176

Nissan Stadium - Tennessee (11)

nissan stadoum tennessee

Owned by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Nissan Stadium is where the Tennessee Titans play their National Football League games and where the Tennessee State Tigers from Tennessee State University call home.

An end of season college game called the Music City Bowl is also played here. Both the men’s and women’s national sides play football here, with exhibition games involving the likes go Los Angeles Galaxy also played on occasion.

Date Opened: 27th of August 1999

Capacity: 70,000

CenturyLink Field - Washington (12)

centurylink field washington

If it’s selected to host games in the 2026 World Cup then CenturyLink Field in Seattle won’t be doing anything it hasn’t done before. As well as being the home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, the stadium is also where theMLS side Seattle Sounders FC play their games.

It was originally known as Seahawks Stadium but was sponsored by a telecommunications company in 2004 and became Qwest Field then its current name when CenturyLink bought Qwest in 2011. Atmosphere won’t be a problem, given the stadium has been in the Guinness Book of Records for the loudest roar.

Date Opened: 28th of July 2002

Capacity: 69,000

Levi's Stadium - California (13)

levis stadium california

Sponsored by the world famous jeans company Levi Strauss, this stadium has been the home of the San Fransisco 49ers since it opened in 2014. Hosting major events won’t be anything new for the ground by the time 2026 rolls around, given that it was the venue for the Super Bowl in 2016.

WrestleMania had been hosted here the year before that and it has also hosted a number of football matches, including Liverpool v AC Milan. In 2014 a deal was struck with the San Jose Earthquakes for them to play a game every year for five years at the stadium.

Date Opened: 17th of July 2014

Capacity: 75,000

Gillette Stadium - Massachusetts (14)

Twenty-eight miles away from Boston in the state of Massachusetts is the home of both the American football team the New England Patriots and the MLS side the New England Revolution. I

t replaced the Patriots’ previous home Foxboro Stadium when it opened in 2002 and was originally known as CMGI Field until the dot-com bubble burst and Gillette took on the sponsoring rights. It’s used to hosting capacity crowds, given that the Patriots have sold out every single home game since they moved here.

Date Opened: 9th of September 2002

Capacity: 65,878

Paul Brown Stadium - Ohio (15)

paul brown stadium ohio

Located in the Ohio city of Cincinnati, this is the venue for the Cincinnati Bengals’ NFL games. The name comes from the owner of the Bengals. Though it’s one of the stadiums on the list as a host venue for the World Cup in 2026, it’s actually unlikely to be selected. That’s because a stadium specifically designed to host football for the United Soccer League side FC Cincinnati is currently being built.

It’s likely to open in 2021 and would almost certainly replace the Paul Brown Stadium on the list of potential venues for the tournament.

Date Opened: 19th of August 2000

Capacity: 65,515

Hard Rock Stadium - Florida (16)

hard rock stadium florida
By AdamFirst [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Located in Miami Gardens, Florida, the Hard Rock Stadium is more than au fait with hosting important events. As well as four BCS National Championship Games, the 2009 World Baseball Classic and a WrestleMania, the venue has also been the home of the Super Bowl on five occasions and is scheduled to do so again in 2021.

From 2019 it will be the home of the Miami Open tennis tournament, which will be added to the roster of both Miami Dolphins NFL games and the Miami Hurricanes college side. It’s boasted numerous names since it opened, including Dolphin Stadium and Pro Player Park, gaining sponsorship from the Hard Rock chain in 2016.

Date Opened: 16th of August 1986

Capacity: 64,767

Camping World Stadium - Florida (17)

camping world stadium florida
By Sgt. John Carkeet IV [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The state of Florida’s second stadium on the list is located in Downtown Orlando and was one of the nine venues used when the US hosted the World Cup back in 1994. Though the stadium officially opened its doors for the first time in 1936, it has been renovated countless times since then and is barely recognisable when compared to how it looked back then.

Though no specific team in any sporting discipline calls this venue home, it’s been used to host numerous teams over the years including the likes of the Orlando City SC football team and the Orlando Panthers American football side. It’s also the host venue for college football tournaments such as the Citrus Bowl.

Date Opened: 1936

Capacity: 65,194

Mexico

Though tensions between Mexico and the United States grew under the Presidential reign of Donald Trump, the two countries came together to propose a bid to host the 2026 World Cup and Mexico offered three potential sites

Estadio Azteca - Mexico City (18)

estadio azteca mexico

The Estadio Azteca is the home of not one but two different football teams and has been ever since it opened its doors in 1966. Both Cruz Azul and Club América play their matches there, with the Mexico national side also playing their games there. It was the first stadium to host three World Cup finals when it was used as the venue for the last match of both the 1970 version of the tournament and the one in 1986.

England fans will likely remember it as the place where Maradona completed his ‘Hand of God’ goal to knock them out at the quarter-final stage in 1986. This was also where the football discipline of the 1968 Summer Olympics was held. It has been renovated numerous times over the years.

Date Opened: 29th of May 1966

Capacity: 87,523

Estadio BBVA Bancomer - Guadalupe (19)

One of Mexico’s most modern stadiums is the Estadio BBVA Bancomer in Guadalupe. Owned and operated by the beverage company FEMSA, it is sponsored by BBVA.

The stadium is eco-friendly, with more than a third of its total area being what are known as ‘green areas’. It is also connected to the nearby New Ecological Park by a wooded pathway. It is the home of Club de Fútbol Monterrey, the oldest professional side in Mexico. It replaced their former home, the Estadio Tecnológico, when it opened in 2015.

Date Opened: 2nd of August 2015

Capacity: 53,500

Estadio Akron - Zapopan (20)

The home of the Mexico women’s national team, the Estadio Akron was previously known as the Estadio Omnilife and the Estadio Chivas. It is part of the J.V.C. complex and has one of the lowest capacities on the list of potential stadiums ahead of 2026, leading many to believe that it’s unlikely to be selected as a host venue.

That said, it hosted the first leg of the Copa Libertadores finals in 2010 and was also where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Pan American Games were held the year after. It’s also the home of the Mexican league side Club Deportivo Guadalajara, so it is used to welcoming football fans through its doors.

Date Opened: 30th of July 2010

Capacity: 46,232

Canada

Last but not least in the triumvirate of countries offering host venues for the 2026 World Cup is America’s closest geographical neighbour, Canada.

Olympic Stadium - Quebec (21)

olympic stadium quebec

Located in the Olympic Park of Montreal, the Olympic Stadium is known to many as ‘The Big O’. This is a nod to both the venue’s name and its design, which has a donut-shape thanks to its roof. It’s a true multi-purpose ground, having hosted different events during the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Since then it has operated as the home of the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, the baseball team the Montreal Expos and the Montreal Manic football team. It’s also hosted CONCACAF Champions League games and friendlies between the likes of AC Milan and The Montreal Impact. The Impact and the Alouettes still play games here.

Date Opened: 17 of July 1976

Capacity: 61,004

Commonwealth Stadium - Alberta (22)

commonwealth stadium alberta
By WinterE229 (WinterforceMedia) [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

Also known as The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium depending on what’s taking place there, the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton is the largest open air ground in Canada. Nine different FIFA World Cup qualification matches have taken place here to date, so the competition wouldn’t be entirely new to the stadium if it was selected for 2026.

FC Edmonton also played some Canadian Championship matches here, whilst the Canadian football team the Edmonton Eskimos continues to call it their home. Though it opened for the first time back in 1978, the ground has been renovated a number of times. The most recent major renovations were in 2008, with the stadium being expanded in 2013.

Date Opened: 15th of July 1978

Capacity: 56,302

BMO Field - Ontario (23)

The home of both the MLS side Toronto FC and its second-tier sister club, BMO Field is located in Toronto. The Canadian football League side Toronto Argonauts also play their games here and it’s had some practice at being used as a World Cup stadium of sorts; the U-20 World Cup in 2007 and the U-20s Women’s World Cup in 2014 both saw games played in the venue.

It has hosted the final of the MLS Cup on three occasions to date, plus the rugby sevens tournament during the Pan-American Games in 2015. It has been expanded a couple of times and had a FieldTurf artificial playing surface installed until it was replaced by grass in 2010.

Date Opened: 28th of April 2007

Capacity: 40,000

Why The Tournament Is Expanding To 48 Teams?

48 in roman numerals

In 1982 the World Cup was expanded to allow twenty-four teams to play in it. This was seen by many as the peak number of sides that should take part in the competition, resulting in a decent quality of matches thanks to qualification phases that separated the wheat from the chaff. In 1998 it was decided to expand the World Cup to allow thirty-two teams to take part in it, giving the opportunity for more sides from Asia, North America and Africa to play. Whilst many accept that it has indeed led to an increase in teams from those regions making it deeper into the competition, with the likes of Cameroon, South Korea, Senegal, the USA and Costa Rica all making the quarter-finals over the years since, many consider the inclusion of extra nations to have watered down the World Cup in recent years.

It’s entirely fair to ask, therefore, why FIFA have felt the need to expand the competition even further from 2026 onwards. A lot of it comes down to promises made by the former President of FIFA Sepp Blatter, with the now disgraced Swiss administrator writing in FIFA Weekly in 2013 that he would like to see ‘globalisation taken seriously’ and that the African and Asian confederations should be ‘accorded the status they deserve’ at future World Cups. That year the then-UEFA President, Michel Platini, decided that he would challenge Blatter for the Presidency and confirmed plans to extend the World Cup to allow forty nations to take part in it. Interestingly, he said that the World Cup is ‘not based on the quality of the teams’, which goes against the grain for many football lovers.

Both Platini and Blatter were courting the votes of the various federations in their hope of being elected as the leader of FIFA moving forward. Two years later and the organisation was rocked by corruption scandals, including the idea FIFA officials had been taking bribes in order to award the hosting of the World Cup to the nations willing to pay them the most money. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were both arrested and left FIFA under a cloud, whilst Gianni Infantino was elected to replace them. He announced in 2016 that he’s actually prefer the World Cup to expand enough to welcome forty-eight different nations, with FIFA taking a vote on that matter in January of 2017 and confirming that that would be what will happen from 2026 onwards.

The hope is that the expansion will allow nations from the likes of Asia, North America and Africa to feel as though they’re more involved in the World Cup, expanding the competition to truly be for the ‘world’. The risk is that the level of the tournament may drop by having so many teams entering from the start. Prior to the expansion being voted upon in 2017, tournament qualifiers would see the lesser teams exit the competition before it had actually properly begun. That resulted in the finalists in every World Cup since it began coming from either Europe or South America, which the FIFA officials behind the idea of an expansion are hoping will cease to be the case in the future. It’s difficult to envisage how allowing more teams to qualify even though they weren’t good enough to get into the competition when less teams could will result in different winners of the competition, but that remains the hope of its organisers.

How Qualification Will Work For The 2026 World Cup

FIFA Confederations
FIFA Confederations - By EOZyo (Based on File:BlankMap-World6,_compact.svg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The exact details of the qualification for the 2026 World Cup have yet to be decided upon by FIFA, even up the point of whether or not all three host nations will automatically be invited to take part in it. What we can tell you, however, is how many teams will likely be able to qualify from each of the different confederations. Here’s how the numbers will work:

  • Asian Football Confederation (AFC): Eight places from forty-seven members
  • Confederation of African Football (CAF): Nine places from fifty-six members
  • Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF): Six places from forty-one members, with three likely to be for the hosts
  • Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL): Six places from ten members
  • Oceania Football Confederation (OFC): One place from eleven members
  • Union of European Football Associations (UEFA): Sixteen places from fifty-five members

The number of members of each confederation is something that is constantly in a state of flux, but the above is accurate at the time of writing.

The more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that eight Asian teams, nine African sides, six North and Central American nations, six South American teams, one from Oceana and sixteen from Europe adds up to forty-six, which will leave the competition short by two teams given that it’s being expanded to include forty-eight of them. That’s because an additional two places will be awarded via a World Cup play-off tournament.

This will likely involve one nation from every confederation playing in a knockout tournament, which will also double as a test event for the three host nations. The only confederation that won’t be invited to send a team along is UEFA. The five teams, along with one from CONCACAF, will go head-to-head in order to see which team will make it to the World Cup finals proper. Two teams will be seeded and four will be unseeded, with the unseeded sides playing each other for the right to play against the two unseeded teams in two mini-finals. The winners of those two matches will then take up the last two places.

How The Tournament Itself Will Work

tournament struture

When the suggestion was first mooted to expand the tournament from the thirty-two team format that had been in place since 1998, numerous possible options were considered. Ten groups of four teams for a forty team tournament was one, as was a forty-eight team expansion that would have a playoff round for thirty-two teams to begin the competition. In the end, a format that would see sixteen groups with three teams in each for a total of eighty matches was chosen. The top two teams from each group will move forward to the knockout stage, which will start with thirty-two side rather than sixteen that enter the knockouts in the present format.

Those that are opposed to the expansion of the tournament aren’t just concerned about the lack of quality in the initial stages of the competition. It’s also felt that sixteen teams having to head home after just two matches will be something of a waste of time for them, as well as likely failing to engage the viewers at home in the nations that don’t progress to the knockout phase. It’s also likely to involve tactics being used in the second game of the group stage. When the second match gets underway, it will be between a team that hasn’t yet played against a team that has. If the team that has won their first game then they will know that they only need a draw to progress. If they lost, however, they will have to win the second game in order to progress to the knockout stage of the tournament. That’s obviously significantly different to when both teams have zero points in their first game of the competition.

Those that support the expansion actually suggest that it’s something of a cheat way to get so many teams involved, given that there aren’t all that many extra matches that need to be played. The two teams that make the final will still have to play six games apiece to get there, which is the same as it currently is. Also, as with the current format, thirty-two teams will play at least three matches, so it’s only the sixteen worst sides in the competition that will go home early. This is likely because of the European Club Association’s complaint that the World Cup already asked players to play more games than they felt was acceptable. The President of the Liga de Fútbol Professional, Javier Tebas, agreed with them and said that Infantino has proposed the move to forty-eight teams for political rather than footballing reasons.

Regardless of the reasons behind the expansion and the manner in which FIFA hope the tournament will pan out, the 2026 World Cup will work as follows:

  1. Sixteen groups of three teams, top two from each progress
  2. Knockout stage of thirty-two teams
  3. Sixteen sides progress to next round
  4. Eight teams move into the quarter-finals
  5. Four teams play in the semi-finals
  6. Two teams compete in the final, whilst the other two play in a third-place, fourth-place play-off

How The 2026 Host Nations Were Selected

Football Betting and Money
 

Ever since the corruption allegations surrounding FIFA and its selection process emerged, there has been much interest in the manner in which the organisation selects its host nations for World Cup tournaments. Between 2013 and 2017 they kept changing their mind about whether or not a country from within the same confederation as the last two host nations could be selected, with exceptions to this coming in if the nations that made a bid failed to fulfil FIFA’s requirements. Gianni Infantino conformed in 2017 that neither Europe nor Asia would be allowed to bid to host the 2026 tournament after Russia had been selected as the host for 2018 and Qatar was chosen for 2022.

The result was that just four confederations could bit to host the 2026 version of the tournament, which were CONCACAF, CAF, CONMEBOL and OFC. CONCACAF had last hosted a World Cup in 1994 when the USA had the honour, whilst CAF did so in 2010 when South Africa was the host nation. CONMEBOL was host confederation in 2014 when Brazil had the honour but the OFC have never hosted a World Cup. Interestingly, FIFA decided to lift its ban on co-hosting the World Cup, which had been introduced in the wake of the 2002 World Cup having been hosted by Japan and South Korea. The US, Mexico and Canada had all been considering individual bids until a decision was made to launch a joint-bid in April of 2017. Initially forty-eight venues were contacted about being used for the bid, but that eventually being cut down to twenty-three.

The other nation that put forward a bid was Morocco, offering fourteen venues across twelve different cities. One of the big things considered when it came to the vote was the fact that all of the stadiums that would be used in the US, Mexican and Canadian bid were already open, working venues. In Morocco, on the other hand, nine new venues would have needed to have been built before the World Cup could be held there. After having witnessed the trouble that Russia suffered in getting the cities ready in time for the 2018 World Cup, it’s likely that this was taken into account when the US joint-bid received one hundred and thirty-four votes in the ballot.

The selection of the three nations allows some interesting history to be set. Canada, having hosted the women’s World Cup in 2015, will become just the fifth nation to host both the men’s and women’s version of the competition. The US, meanwhile, will become the first nation to have hosted both the men’s and women’s versions of the World Cup twice, having already done the men’s in 1994 and the women’s in 1999 and 2003. Finally, Mexico will be the first country to have hosted the men’s World Cup on three separate occasions, having already had the honour in 1970 and 1986.