We’re less than six months away from the next World Cup, but Houston is already a key player for 2026 when the world’s biggest tournament returns to North America for the first time since 1994.
For Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, last week’s announcement that Houston will be one of the 16 host cities for 2026 is a testament to the city’s growth on the international stage.
“You can’t be a global international city if you don’t participate on a global international stage,” Turner said.
The city will host five to six World Cup matches over the course of 21 days. Each of the games brings tremendous values to H-Town, “It equals every time they play a game, it’s like the Super Bowl is going on in our city. It’s simply amazing,” Turner said.
The expected economic impact, according to the Houston file committee to host the World Cup?
Each game would be on par with Super Bowl 51 in 2017. This game brought in $347,000,000 for the region.
However, five to six World Cup matches will be unlike any sporting event that Houston has experienced.
City officials expect economic impact north of one Billion dollar.
“Hosting the World Cup is like seeing a comet,” said youth club football manager for Houston Dynamo and Dash Randy Evans.
For millions, it truly is a sports spectacle that takes off in Space City.
The Houston emergency felt they were on solid ground with last week’s announcement.
“Our infrastructure is strong and in place and it was one of the really strong points of our bid,” said Chris Canetti, Houston’s World Cup Hosting Bid Committee Chair.
In an interview with KPRC 2 Investigates, Canetti referenced Houston’s pedigree for hosting other major tournaments.
He added, “No other candidate city has hosted more major sporting events than we have hosted since 2004.”
Two Super Bowls, two Four Finals, and four World Championships.
FIFA officials witnessed an event in person last fall when their visit to Houston happened to be on the same day as the first game of the Astros-Braves Global Series.
It ended up strengthening the stadium in Houston by showing officials how smoothly the city handled tournament events.
The focus is now on preparing for 2026.
Training facilities have been set up with the University of Houston, Rice University, Houston Sports Park, the adjacent Houston Sabercats and PNC Stadium where Dynamo plays most often.
However, the NRG host venue will need work.
“We need to build a full grass deck,” Canetti said.
The process will not begin until March 22, 2026, immediately after the conclusion of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Competition.
NRG is expected to undergo $10,000,000 in capital improvements before the World Cup.
The field and its quality will be the main focus because FIFA has its standards.
“We will try to have our stadium somewhere sometime in May and have it ready and ready for matches in June,” Canetti said.
For an immediate return?
It will be seen in football stadiums across the region as the escalation to 2026 is expected to generate significant interest in youth football.
When KPRC 2 Investigates asked Evans how different he expects from next year’s Dynamo and Dash camps and the next? Evans didn’t hold back, “I was expecting that to double each time.”
Evans has coached football for 35 years. He views the 2026 World Cup as a once-in-a-generation golden opportunity.
“You see all these little kids running around. Next time we host the World Cup, [they’re] We are going to be adults with their children, so we really need to take advantage of this opportunity.”
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