Cincinnati continues its quest to host the 2026 World Cup and soon will welcome international soccer officials to bolster its chances.
FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Delegation will visit the Queen City on Friday, Oct. 22, to tour Paul Brown Stadium, soccer training facilities and Fan Fest locations, an Oct. 13 press release from the 2026 Cincy Local Organizing Committee says.
The committee has focused on preparing the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium for FIFA regulations. According to FIFA's guide for bidding for the 2026 World Cup, host stadiums must have a seating capacity of at least 40,000 for quarter-final games, 60,000 for semi-finals and 80,000 for final matches. Paul Brown Stadium currently has a seating capacity of 65,515.
The West End's TQL Stadium, where FC Cincinnati plays, has a capacity of around 26,000, making it too small for World Cup action.
Additionally, local officials are looking at the pitch. The game field in Paul Brown Stadium is synthetic turf, while FIFA regulations require natural grass.
While in Cincinnati, FIFA and U.S. Soccer officials undoubtedly also will assess the Queen City's appetite for soccer, and local fans can help with that. According to a press release, soccer fans are invited to a street festival beginning at 2 p.m. Oct. 22, on Walnut Street at Freedom Way, where they can enjoy free LaRosa's pizza and a beer from Moerlein Lager House. The party continues with live music until 5 p.m.
At 2:45 p.m., FC Cincinnati supporters will march World Cup flags to Paul Brown Stadium via Gate D on Elm Street. Fans are invited to join the march.
Cincinnati is one of 17 U.S. cities vying to host a 2026 World Cup match. Officials expect that 10-11 cities will be chosen in early 2022.
Cincinnati already has some World Cup action in the works. In July, TQL Stadium was chosen as the site for one of the 2022 World Cup qualifying matches. The United States Men's National Soccer Team will host Mexico on Nov. 12 for what Carl Lindner III, the majority owner of FC Cincinnati, calls "one of the most significant soccer matches in the world."
The USMNT will play Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifying match on Oct. 13 at Lower.com Field in Columbus.
Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.