By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer
We now know which cities and stadiums in the United States, Canada and Mexico will host games to the 2026 World Cup.
At a gala, globally televised presentation Thursday from Rockefeller Center in New York City, FIFA revealed the 16 winning municipalities and venues in the three North American countries.
The list breaks down as follows:
* Toronto (BMO Field)
* Vancouver (BC Place)
* Guadalajara (Estadio Akron)
* Mexico City (Estadio Azteca)
* Monterrey (Estadio BBVA)
* Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
* Boston (Gillette Stadium)
* Dallas (AT&T Stadium)
* Houston (NRG Stadium)
* Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium)
* Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium)
* Miami (Hard Rock Stadium)
* New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)
* Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field)
* San Francisco/Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium)
* Seattle (Lumen Field)
Why are these the picks?
The 16 venues are the most ever for a single World Cup, which makes sense. Expanding from 32 to 48 teams after Qatar 2022 this fall, the 2026 event will be the largest ever and first to be jointly hosted by three nations. The last time the tournament was held in North America, only nine cities held games.
For 2026, three cities bid from Mexico. Guadalajara and Monterrey have both built state-of-the-art stadiums in recent years. Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the first stadium to stage two World Cup finals, in 1970 and 1986, is one of the sport’s true cathedrals. Four summers from now, it will become the first to host games in three tournaments.
Three Canadian cities were in the running, but in the end, only Toronto and Vancouver were selected, with Edmonton missing out. Vancouver came back into the mix after Montreal, Canada’s second-largest metropolis, dropped out of the running last summer. Vancouver memorably hosted the finale of the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Who missed the cut?
In the U.S., Baltimore/Washington D.C, Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville and Orlando were passed over.
The big surprise was Boston over the bid from Baltimore/ D.C. In the end, the nation’s capital’s efforts might have been hurt by logistics. After FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, dropped out of the running in April and merged with Baltimore’s bid, the plan was to have teams train in D.C. but play matches more than 40 minutes away.
Meanwhile, Boston chances could’ve been boosted by the fact that Robert Kraft, an original investor in Major League Soccer (and the owner of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts) who also is close with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, was the public face of their tender.
Chicago, the third-largest American city by population after New York and Los Angeles, declined to bid. The longtime home of the U.S. Soccer Federation was the site of the World Cup opener in 1994.
Why are some cities/venues clustered together?
Given the record-breaking size and scope of the 2026 World Cup, FIFA wanted the venues it chose to be in relative proximity to one another to ease travel for fans and teams, multiple sources told FOX Sports.
With 80 games in all, that strategy makes sense. A city such as Seattle was helped by the fact that Vancouver is just hours away by car. Same goes for Dallas and Houston and for the three selections along the northeast corridor, Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey and Boston. Toronto is an hour flight from all of those, with Atlanta and Miami representing the southeast.
Even Thursday’s presentation was broken into regions. There are four host cities along the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada, and Guadalajara is in western Mexico. Monterrey, the two Texan reps and Kansas City — which surely benefited from Chicago’s absence — are clustered in the middle part of the continent.
One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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