FIFA officials visit Mercedes-Benz Stadium ahead of World Cup decision

FIFA officials visited Mercedes-Benz Stadium Friday as part of their FIFA World Cup 2026 Candidate Host City Tour. Atlanta is one of 16 U.S. cities in the running to host a portion of the tournament.  

The United States, Mexico and Canada won a united bid to host the 2026 World Cup back in 2018, but FIFA must now decide which cities will host matches.  

"Basically we look at all the different areas that are important to each of our stakeholders to ensure that everyone has that magical experience at the World Cup, whether you're a player, whether you're a broadcaster, media,  sponsor, guest, fans," explained FIFA Chief Tournaments and Events Officer Colin Smith.

Smith said if they choose Atlanta, they will have to come up with a plan to replace the artificial turf inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium with real grass.  Though he said that is not much of a concern.

"We just need to get it right and we have experts on our side," said Smith.

Atlanta Sports Council President Dan Corso said they have not done any studies on the potential economic impact of hosting the World Cup, but he said because of the nature of the event, it would bring in more money than events the city has previously hosted.

"There are studies out there that show it's several hundred million dollars as a projection.  It all really depends on the number of matches that a city hosts," Corso explained.  "If you take for example the Super Bowl, which was a 10 day event period, that was several hundred million dollars for one event.  FIFA World Cup is 30 plus days as an event period with multiple matches. So, it's certainly, we think, north of that."

AMB Sport and Entertainment CEO Steve Cannon said because the World Cup is an international event, it will have long-lasting benefits for the city.

"Once other companies, CEOs, business leaders see what Atlanta has to offer, the economic impact won't just be hotel rooms and airline tickets.  It's going to be people relocating and living here in Atlanta," said Cannon.

FIFA officials plan to announce the list of host cities in early 2022.  

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