San Antonio has been invited to become one of 44 cities to bid for the 2026 soccer FIFA World Cup, which will be held in North America, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
34 cities in the United States have been invited to bid for the right to host the event, along with 7 cities in Canada, and three in Mexico.
"Soccer is the most popular sport on the planet," said Mary Japhet of San Antoino Sports. "So the opportunity for San Antoio to be the host of the World Cup in 2026 is remarkable."
She points out that, with a capacity for soccer matches in excess of 72,000, the Alamodome is uniquely positioned to host the sport. With the exception of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, which can hold 102,000 in a soccer configuration, and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, with a capacity of 87,000, the Alamodome is one of the largest facilities on the list.
FIFA says the 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament with the expanded 48-team format and will require world-class facilities and infrastructure.
"The United States, Mexico, and Canada are uniquely suited to accommodate FIFA's high-level standards for hosting a World Cup," The Bid Committee said.
The host city will also have to propose top international-level training sites and locations for team base camps, as well as hotels for teams, staff and VIPs. The bid committee will also evaluate cities on their commitment to sustainable event management, aspirations to develop soccer, and the positive social impact they anticipate in the community and beyond stemming from the event.
Japhet says San Antonio has a good chance of making the short list, based on the success of events the city has hosted.
"Most recently the Gold Cup, which was hugely successful, and the organizers of that event are very much involved in this World Cup effort," she said.
Local officials cited the city's strong Latin American roots, support for the professional soccer team which now plays at Toyota Field, and the fact that San Antonio, unlike most venues, can boast thousands of hotel rooms without walking distance of the Alamodome as positive factors.