Minneapolis is getting into the running to play host to World Cup soccer.
U.S. Bank Stadium, the 63,000-seat home of the Vikings, is one of 49 stadiums in consideration to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches, the United Bid Committee of the United States, Mexico and Canada announced Tuesday. Sports Minneapolis, a marketing arm of Meet Minneapolis, has already announced its intention to pursue the opportunity.
“Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium already have a reputation for securing major sporting events with the upcoming Super Bowl LII, the 2017 and 2018 X Games and NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2019,” said Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis and executive director of Sports Minneapolis, in a news release. “Along with our support of the Expo 2023 bid [World’s Fair], being included in this process demonstrates our readiness to welcome the world to our destination.”
The committee reached out to 44 cities — 34 in the U.S., seven in Canada and three in Mexico — inquiring about their interest in hosting World Cup matches. All but one NFL city (Buffalo) is on the U.S. list.
The cities have until Sept. 5 to respond. Of the interested cities, the committee will create a shortlist in late September before cities prepare a final bid in early January. The official bid for the tournament, due March 16, will have 20 to 25 stadiums on it. The 2018 World Cup in Russia will use 12 venues as did the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
U.S. Bank Stadium, with a turf surface, would need to install grass to host World Cup matches. It brought in natural grass for its first sporting event last August, an exhibition match between European soccer stalwarts AC Milan and Chelsea.
Sport Minneapolis, part of the city’s convention and visitors bureau, will work with the stadium, the city of Minneapolis and others to provide information about transportation, experience playing host to major events, accommodations, environmental protection initiatives and potential venues, according to Sport Minneapolis’ release.
Minnesota United, the Major League Soccer team in its inaugural season, is building a soccer-specific, natural-grass stadium in the St. Paul Midway neighborhood. It is set to open in 2019. With a capacity of about 19,000, it wouldn’t meet the requirements of hosting a World Cup match, which is 40,000 at least.
United team owner Bill McGuire, in a prepared statement, said the Twin Cities “have a long-standing and growing passion for soccer that emanates from our diverse community. As a dynamic and progressive region with great businesses, outdoor spaces, artistic and sports facilities, we can provide an unparalleled location and showcase for the World Cup.”
Morocco also intends to bid for the 2026 World Cup. FIFA will choose the host at its congress next June.