The 2026 World Cup final will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on July 19.
FIFA made the announcement Sunday at a Miami television studio, allocating the opener of the 39-day tournament spread across three North American nations to Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on June 11 and the finale to the home of the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants.
Meanwhile, it was a bittersweet draw for Bay Area soccer fans as Levi’s Stadium was awarded six games but Santa Clara is the only U.S. site among 11 that will not host a game after the new round of 32. Santa Clara is also the only West Coast site that isn’t guaranteed to host a United States Men’s National Team match.
Levi’s will play host to five group-play matches — on June 13, June 16, June 19, June 22 and June 25 — and a Round of 32 match on July 1. Teams and times will be announced later.
Sunday’s news was cause for celebration on the East Coast, though.
“It will be a celebration of our diversity and our values,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a telephone interview. “The bigger picture is what leads up to it and what we leave behind for the decades to come.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had lobbied for the final to be at his AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“The competition was dealing with the perception of the coastal, of a New York, or a Los Angeles,” he said. “If this were totally being played to just America and the United States, that wouldn’t have been such a formidable thing to overcome. But internationally, that’s formidable to overcome.”
All games from the quarterfinals on are in the United States. Semifinals are on July 14 at AT&T Stadium and the following day at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Quarterfinals are at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on July 9, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, the following day, and at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, and Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on July 11. The third-place game will be at Hard Rock on July 18.
The U.S. team will train in suburban Atlanta ahead of the tournament and open at SoFi on June 12. The Americans play seven days later at Seattle’s Lumen Field and finish the group stage at SoFi on June 25.
Since reaching the semifinals of the first World Cup in 1930, the U.S. has advanced to the quarterfinals just once, in 2002.
Seventy-eight of 104 matches of the first World Cup held in three nations will be played in the U.S., with 13 games each in Mexico and Canada.
“It’s about making our nation proud,” American coach Gregg Berhalter said. “One way to really grow the game and to change soccer in America forever is to perform well and do something that no U.S. team has ever done before.”
AT&T, which had hopes to present the final, will host a tournament-high nine matches. There will be eight each at MetLife, SoFi and Mercedes Benz; seven apiece at Hard Rock, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and NRG Stadium in Houston; and six apiece at Lumen, Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, and Levi’s Stadium.
FIFA officials did not publicly explain their site-decision process.
Philadelphia’s final match will be a round-of-16 meeting on July 4, the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park hosts baseball’s All-Star Game, likely on July 14.
FIFA expanded the World Cup from 32 to 48 nations, increased matches from 64 and announced the 16 sites in 2022.
Murphy learned of the decision while at a watch party in a MetLife Stadium suite. He was not discouraged by a British tabloid report on Jan. 17 that the final would be at AT&T.
“We did everything we could to put our head downs, focus on the job at hand, kind of push out the noise, and that turned out to be a winning formula,” Murphy said,
Mexico will play its second match at Estadio BBVA in Monterrey on June 18 and return to Azteca on June 24. Mexico City will host five matches, with four each in Monterrey and Guadalajara’s Estadio Akron.
Canada will play its opening first-round match in Toronto on June 12, then its following two games in B.C. Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 18 and 24. Each Canada venue will host 13 games.
A nation will need to play eight matches to win the title, up from seven since 1982.
All 11 of the U.S. stadiums are home to NFL teams. Hard Rock will host this year’s Copa América final on July 14, while MetLife was the site of the 2016 Copa América final.
Both the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals were at Azteca.
When the U.S. hosted the 24-nation, 52-game tournament in 1994, the final was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the opener at Chicago’s Soldier Field and the semifinals at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford and the Rose Bowl.
With the additional teams, the length of the tournament will grow from 29 days in the shortened 2022 schedule in Qatar and 32 days for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Only one match will involve a team that has not had at least three off days. FIFA divided the group stage into East, Central and West regions and intended to make travel shorter for group winners.
The stadiums in Arlington, Atlanta and Houston have retractable roofs that are expected to be closed because of summer heat, and Inglewood and Vancouver have fixed roofs.
Artificial turf will be replaced by grass in Arlington, Atlanta, East Rutherford, Foxborough, Houston, Inglewood and Vancouver.
Several of the venues are expected to widen their surfaces to accommodate a 75-by-115 yard (68-by-105 meter) playing field, including AT&T and MetLife.
FIFA did not announce kickoff times. The 1994 championship started at 12:30 p.m. PDT but the start has been moved up in recent years as Asia’s television market become more significant to FIFA. The 2022 final in Qatar started at 5 p.m. local time (7 a.m. PDT).