Atlanta became a soccer city this year—some would say the U.S. soccer city—with the inaugural season of Atlanta United FC ushering in a new era of professional sports.
And in nine years, Atlanta could reach the apex of the world’s most popular game, as it’s been revealed the city could potentially host a FIFA World Cup match in 2026.
Canada, Mexico, and the United States have banded together to chase the quadrennial event, which pits country against country on the soccer pitch. The United Bid Committee, who is handling the multi-national bid, revealed a shortlist of cities in the three countries who are in the running to host games.
The press release indicates that a major factor in the decision was that each city “features existing or already planned stadiums and other world-class infrastructure.” Of course, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium checks all the boxes and was designed with FIFA requirements in mind.
If Atlanta hosts a game, it wouldn’t be the first major event the stadium has helped lure to the city, as The Benz is already slated to host the college football championship in a few months, a Super Bowl in 2019, and Final Four in 2020.
Only two other cities in the Southeast, Charlotte and Nashville, made the World Cup cut.
Birmingham and New Orleans were bumped from the list in this round. Many major cities, from New York to Los Angeles, made the list for the United States, while three Mexican cities and four Canadian cities also passed along to the next round of analysis.
Of the 32 cities to show up on the list, only a dozen or so will ultimately host games should North America be selected.