Why Cincinnati Should Host The 2026 World Cup

The 2026 World Cup may seem incredibly far away. However, FIFA will announce the North American host cities on June 16, and Ohioans will soon know if Cincinnati will host 2026 World Cup matches.

FIFA will announce the 16 cities — 10 in the US and three apiece in Canada and Mexico — that will combine to host a record 80 World Cup matches.

The 15 US cities competing with Cincinnati are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C./Baltimore.

Colin Smith, FIFA Chief Tournaments & Events Officer, acknowledged how important the June 16 announcement will be.

“The host cities will be absolutely key to ensuring the successful delivery of the competition,” Smith said. “We look forward to working with them to deliver what will undoubtedly be the largest World Cup in history.”

Smith isn’t hyperbolizing the magnitude of the 2026 World Cup. The tournament field will expand from 32 teams to 48, so the 2026 spectacle will quite literally be the largest World Cup we’ve ever seen.

Cincinnati doesn’t stand out as a lock to be named among the host cities, so Ohioans may need to hold their breath on June 16.

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Why Cincinnati Should Host The 2026 World Cup

The World Cup venue to be used if Cincinnati is chosen as a host city is Paul Brown Stadium. We’ll discuss the venue in more detail in the section below. First, it’s worth taking a look at Cincinnati as a whole.

While Cincinnati isn’t one of the nation’s largest or most glamorous cities, it has hosted multiple US Men’s National Team matches. Time will tell if Christian Pulisic’s critique of the most recent TQL Stadium crowd plays any role in whether FIFA names Cincinnati a host city.

Pulisic’s post-game comments aside, Cincinnati does have factors going in its favor. Namely, a pair of quality options to potentially serve as fan fest locations.

Sawyer Point sits along the riverfront downtown. It includes two adjacent parks, a concert lawn, a pavilion, and an amphitheater. Additionally, The Banks is also located downtown — close to Paul Brown Stadium — and is considered a quality Fan Fest option as well.

It’s important for fans to have plenty to do in between games, and Cincinnati offers a wide array of attractions.

Those willing to add a few additional miles to their visit can make a side trip to catch a professional baseball game. Local options range from parks, museums, historical attractions, food and drink, and more.

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What Do We Need To Know About Paul Brown Stadium?

Paul Brown Stadium is home to the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. It’s an open-air stadium that sits 65,535 spectators. Average highs in Cincinnati in June and July range from 83-87 degrees — manageable conditions, relatively speaking. Climate is a major consideration for cities with outdoor venues.

Current seating capacity and climate are hardly the most important factors when it comes to Cincinnati winning a bid though.

In order to meet FIFA’s requirements, Paul Brown Stadium would need to undergo approximately $10 million in upgrades by summer 2025. Upgrades include the replacement of synthetic turf with natural grass and the widening of the pitch. The latter would require the removal of seats in the corners of the stadium.

How Good Is Cincinnati’s Chance To Claim Host Bid?

Stadium challenges aside, Cincinnati has put itself on the map as a target city. Much of that is thanks to hosting multiple US Men’s National Team matches.

A question worth considering is how many midwestern cities will FIFA select? One may imagine that FIFA won’t want to select multiple Midwest candidates in lieu of a larger, more “glamorous” option.

If this stands as a factor, Cincinnati’s best chances may hinge on how it compares to Nashville, Tenn., and Kansas City, Mo. All three cities have a Major League Soccer presence and would host World Cup matches in open-air stadiums.

AP Photo/Jeff Dean

About the Author

Craig Williams

Craig Williams is a Charlotte-based sportswriter who has worked professionally in the gaming, fantasy, and sports business industries. He’s an avid fantasy football player, managing over 100 leagues across multiple formats. When he’s not pouring over Vegas odds and statistics, he’s indulging in soccer and enjoys anything from LigaMX to Champions League.