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Chicago one of 25 U.S. venues vying for 2026 World Cup

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The Windy City is part of North America’s unique three-country bid for the games

Soldier Field has been identified as a candidate venue in a joint multi-city bid by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Flickr Creative Commons/Marco Verch

While Chicago’s chance of landing Amazon’s HQ2 corporate campus is anything but guaranteed, the Windy City’s bid for a different kind of prize—the 2026 FIFA World Cup—is reportedly looking “strong.” Thanks to its proximity to two major airports, mass transit, and a soccer-friendly, ethnically diverse fanbase, Soldier Field would make an ideal venue for the games, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

With the bitter sting of defeat (or the relief of a dodged financial bullet) from Chicago’s failed 2016 Olympic bid still relatively fresh in the minds of many Chicagoans, appealing to an international governing body like FIFA might evoke feelings of déjà vu.

Chicago, however, will not be shouldering the sole burden should it be chosen to host the 2026 World Cup. The soccer federations of the United States, Canada, and Mexico have submitted an unusual three-country joint pitch for the event.

Known as the United Bid Committee, the coordinated North American effort will see the games spread across multiple venues in each of the three host nations. Twenty-five potential U.S. venues—including Soldier Field—were identified as candidate cities by the UBC. That list is expected to eventually shrink to around a dozen cities as the bid process progresses over the coming years.

The opening ceremonies for the 1994 World Cup at Soldier Field.
Photo by Chris Wilkins/Getty Images

Offering a seating capacity of 61,500, Soldier Field is one of the smallest U.S. venues in contention and would be unable to accommodate the higher-profile opening game or the finals.

Kara Bachman, executive director of the Chicago Sports Commission, believes that seating capacity shouldn’t rule out Soldier Field from hosting the event. “We definitely qualify for the majority of games that are going to be available,” Bachman told the Sun-Times.

Prior to its flying saucer-like renovation in 2003, Chicago’s Soldier Field was one of nine U.S. venues to jointly host the Cup in 1994 and was home to the Women’s World Cup in 1999.