FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, published the full 2026 World Cup bid books from the North American and Moroccan contenders on Monday. Both documents are hefty — North America’s is 530 pages; Morocco’s is 384 — and the bidding regulations are complex, too.
Here are the important things you need to know about what the North American bid book says about Philadelphia.
Timeline: The big vote will be held June 13 in Moscow, just before this summer’s World Cup kicks off. It’s expected that the 23 cities in the World Cup bid will be cut to 16 in June 2020. FIFA will make the final choice on those cities with input from the bid committee. (That’s notable, because it means the bid committee won’t make the choice on its own.)
Local bid committee: Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney, Eagles president Don Smolenski, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau president Julie Coker Graham, PHL Sports president Larry Needle
Proposed stadium: Lincoln Financial Field; listed capacity, 69,328
Knockout round games it could get: Round of 16 or quarterfinal
Proposed training venues: Talen Energy Stadium, the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex, Penn’s Rhodes Field
(Drexel’s Vidas Field is included in the bid book, but school officials told the Inquirer and Daily News that as of now it won’t actually be a training venue because they have not agreed to a contract with bid organizers.)
Proposed team hotels: Hotel Monaco (5th and Chestnut Streets), Le Meridien (15th and Arch), Hotel Palomar (17th and Sansom Streets), The Logan (18th along the Ben Franklin Parkway),
Proposed VIP hotels: The Ritz-Carlton (Broad and Chestnut), Doubletree Center City (Broad and Locust)
Proposed fan fest sites: Penn’s Landing between Chestnut and Walnut Streets (at the planned new park over Interstate 95), West Fairmount Park at Memorial Hall
Here are some other notable things to know about what’s in the bid, starting with what the proposed sites are for some major events leading to the World Cup…
World Cup qualifying draw (July 2023): Miami Beach or Washington (at either city’s convention center)
Tournament draw (December 2025): San Francisco (at the NBA arena, the Chase Center, that will open in 2019) or Los Angeles (at L.A. Live’s Microsoft Theater)
World Cup team workshop (event planning, February 2026): Nashville or Baltimore (at meeting centers and/or hotels in both cities)
2026 FIFA Congress (first half of the year): Mexico City or Los Angeles (at either city’s convention center)
World Cup final site: East Rutherford, N.J.
Potential semifinal sites: Atlanta; Arlington, Texas; Foxborough, Mass.; Landover, Md. (The bid’s official preference is for Atlanta and Dallas to be the venues.)
Potential quarterfinal and/or third-place game sites: Baltimore; Cincinnati; Denver; Houston, Kansas City; Miami; Nashville; Orlando; Philadelphia; Santa Clara, Calif.; Seattle
Venues that wouldn’t host beyond the Round of 16: Edmonton, Guadalajara, Montreal, Monterrey, Toronto
Matches per stadium overall: No venue would host more than seven.
Games in Canada and Mexico: Each nation would get seven group stage games, two Round of 32 games and one Round of 16 game.
Would the U.S. play in Philadelphia? That’s one of the biggest questions locally. Of course, it’s probably one of the biggest questions for all the U.S. cities in the bid.
The bid proposes that the tournament generally moves from the West Coast to the East Coast. There’s a proposed game schedule in the bid book, but it has to be vague because there are 17 U.S. cities still on the table and only 10 will make the cut.
Put a big emphasis on the word proposed in “proposed game schedule,” because ultimately, FIFA has the final say. For example, the North American bid would like to have three games on opening day — one each in Toronto, Mexico City and Los Angeles — because there are three host countries. Traditionally, there’s just one game on opening day.
Another tradition is that the tournament usually kicks off on the second Friday of June. If that happens in 2026, according to the proposed schedule, July 4 would be an off day. The odds of there being no games on that day are slim, and made even slimmer by the fact that July 4, 2026 is a Saturday.
Even FIFA’s bureaucrats in Switzerland are smart enough to know that. (And rest assured that people behind the scenes of the North American bid are smart enough to know it would be a good idea for the United States to play that day, maybe even in Philadelphia.)
The more important conclusion to draw is that the bid committee is fine with the U.S. playing multiple times in a given city. The proposed schedule would have the Americans play their Round of 16 game in the same city as the final if they win their group. If they finish second, they’d play their Round of 16 game in the same city as one of the semifinals.
Again, don’t assume that’s how things would actually play out. But the bid book puts the idea out there intentionally.
That might surprise fans who hope the U.S. plays in as many cities as possible, so that the greatest number of potential fans can watch the team in person.
The players are a higher priority than the fans in that regard. The bid book puts a big priority on regionalizing teams’ travel itineraries so that they don’t have to fly all over the place.
In the end, for as fun as the parlor games are, they’re mostly a waste of time. This much is for sure: The bid organizers really like Philadelphia, for its stadium and its public transit (yes, really) and its location in the middle of lots of other big cities where games could be played.
And because 2026 is America’s 250th birthday, it’s a safe bet that if America’s birthplace makes the final cut of host cities, it will get plenty of time in the spotlight.