Seattle’s hospitality industry is rejoicing after the city won its bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2026.
The announcement was made by FIFA leaders during a live, international broadcast, with Seattle one of 16 cities across North America selected by FIFA to host matches for the men’s tournament in summer 2026.
“Our city has been preparing for this moment for over a decade, laying the groundwork with previous FIFA bids,” said Beth Knox, president & CEO for the Seattle Sports Commission and SEA 2026 Bid Committee Co-Chair.
“Today’s announcement marks the end of a five-year, labour of love journey in communicating to FIFA what we knew from the very beginning: we are ready to host the FIFA World Cup 2026.”
The Bid Committee estimates that 2026 host cities will collectively generate more than USD$5 billion ($7.19 billion) in short-term economic activity, with an estimated net gain of USD$90-480 million ($129-690 million) per city after factoring in estimated public costs. A total of 40,000 jobs will be supported throughout North America’s 16 host sites – in Seattle, that will mean a significant amount of new jobs in support of the events.
“Today’s announcement represents one of the most significant moments in Seattle’s proud history as we cement our spot as an all-time great international sports destination,” said Tammy Blount-Canavan, President & CEO for Visit Seattle.
The FIFA World Cup 2026 will be a 48-team tournament hosted by three nations – both firsts for a FIFA World Cup. An announcement on the number of matches, and the rounds Seattle will host, is expected in June 2023.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup (the last to be played in the U.S.) was the most financially successful in the tournament’s history – breaking World Cup average attendance records with nearly 69,000 spectators per game, a mark that still stands today. Visit Seattle anticipates all hotels within a two-hour drive of Seattle will be fully utilized.
When selecting 2026 hosts, FIFA considered the city’s ability to host ancillary events in various locations and venues (including training sites and stadium sizes), sustainability, human rights, legacy, general infrastructure, financial impact and local MLS support. Airlift and airport quality were also considered, timing well with the recent opening of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s International Arrivals Facility.
“We’re thrilled FIFA recognized the infrastructure Seattle has in place to hold global events like the World Cup,” said Kelly Saling, senior VP and chief sales officer for Visit Seattle.
“Seattle is the perfect setting to host World Cup matches. Our region is compact and efficient, providing an extraordinarily beautiful landscape complete with passionate soccer fans. We get to share our outstanding venues and hotels, the mix of unique culture, food and music; and of course, an authentic Pacific Northwest atmosphere.”
Seattle’s hospitality industry united to collectively meet the requirement of committing thousands of hotel rooms for future peak nights during the summer of 2026 for a match schedule that is not yet known. These commitments required a great deal of cooperation from all regional hotels.
“Being named host city is a testament to the strength and resiliency of Seattle’s hospitality industry,” said Tom Wolf, GM for Hyatt Regency Seattle.
“Our community rallied together to ensure commitment to hosting one of the most significant international sporting events and certainly the largest in Seattle’s history. For hotels, this brings an unparalleled opportunity to introduce Seattle to global travellers.
“At Hyatt, we’re excited about how the format of the World Cup will allow for travellers to get the hyperlocal experiences that are true to Seattle.”