It was announced that, in a joint bid, the United States, Mexico, and Canada will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup of Soccer.
While we hope the US team gets it together and starts to play as well as we did in 2002 – when we sent Portugal (with Figo, then voted best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the biggest legends of the sport and Deco) back home, and were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Germany, that World Cup’s runner-up – out of the soccer field there are reasons to be optimistic. Being a World Cup host is huge news, as the FIFA World Cup is by far the biggest sports event in the world. In 2014, more than 3.2 Billion (yes, Billion!) people watched the final game between Germany and Argentina on TV with 32 million tweets during the 90-minute game. It’s so absurd it makes the Super Bowl numbers (111 million in 2015) seem small!
This will not be our first rodeo either. In 1994 we have hosted all by ourselves one of the most memorable World Cups of modern age. Won by soccer masters Brazil (the biggest winners with 5 trophies under their belt), that FIFA World Cup has many memorable moments inside the pitch, like the retirement of one of the best to ever play the game (Argentina’s Diego Maradona) and several remarkable players – like Romania’s Gheorghe Hagi, Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov, Italy’s Roberto Baggio and Brazil’s Romario – at their prime. However, out of the game itself, again, that World Cup was pretty remarkable. For those that are too young to remember or weren’t even born (damn, we feel old now) the American audience went crazy with the event. To this day, it’s the FIFA World Cup with the highest attendance: an average of 69,000 people went to the stadium to watch quality soccer with a total of 3.6 million people for the 52 games. The demand for soccer became so big, that it lead to the creation of a different MLS. Yes, if you’re a real estate agent dealing with a soccer fan, chances are he’ll be confused when you talk about listing the home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), as the only MLS he knows is the Major League Soccer – which has, since its first tournament in 1996, grown a lot and has fervent fans all across the country. In the 2011 season, it had a higher average attendance than the NBA and the NHL.
So there’s no discussion that a FIFA World Cup can attract a lot of people and money here. And there’s no discussion that we can be great World Cup Hosts and make an unforgettable one in and out of the soccer pitch; history is there to show us that. However, being a World Cup host is not always rosy.
In the last decades, FIFA, the federation that regulates soccer worldwide, has become the target of FBI investigations and the subject of a lot of protests around the world. The main complaint revolves around corruption and the high costs involved in hosting the event. Looking at the last World Cup hosts it seems that one of the best things to avoid turning the celebration into a sour memory is defining the expectations of the event’s goal to the country. What do we mean by that? In 2006, Germany had one specific goal when bidding to become the World Cup host: tourism and marketing. It was widely divulged that the German committee wanted the world to see Germany and its people as friendly, welcoming people. To get rid of their World War II image of cold, distant people. From top to bottom – from the well-trained tourist personnel and the promotion of landmarks and attractions to the loose way their young players played – they did a wonderful job with that. Now, Brazil, the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosts, have the opposite of that problem; their people are known as one of the friendliest in the world and some remarkable tourist attractions. However, there seemed to be no macro plan behind their decision to host the event. No big plan to drive tourism and display some of their biggest features. So, they hosted, the event itself was great, but after the tournament ended, there was a nationwide sentiment that it was for nothing; that the FIFA World Cup legacy left for the country was none. Less than a year after the event, some of the stadiums that cost millions to get built were left abandoned. The number of tourists outside the tournament didn’t improve or decrease. It just made no positive difference. Of course, it wasn’t the only reason – a big economy recession stroked right after the Olympic Games, also hosted by Brazil, two years later – but many pundits even credit this as one of the political catalysts of the subsequent impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016.
So, it seems that for America (and Canada and Mexico!) to do a great job being World Cup Hosts amid so many controversies with FIFA and the World Cup, some planning is required. And we look forward to it! According to CNN, one of the points pledged by the North American bid is to, through the sports event, use its leverage to promote anti-discrimination and harassment of LGBT community, thus approximating more to Germany’s way of plans than Brazil’s.
From our Real Estate point of view, the 2026 Fifa World Cup can be an amazing tool to drive tourism. As the tournament is always held during the summer, tourists going to the best vacation destinations might now bundle up the trip with a game or two. But it could also have tourism plans targeted to other places aside from our most conventional international tourist hotspots (Florida, California, New York and Hawaii) rewarding smaller markets that were early adopters of soccer in the US, like Kansas City, Minnesota, Colorado and Columbus (Ohio) by having them as host-cities. It makes sense: all of those cities have soccer clubs in the Major League Soccer with lots of supporters attending the games. So, on one hand, you have fans attending the games and tourists flocking to these places that are not that known to the international public. That seems like a great idea for the development and tourism in these real estate markets, right?
As of yet, the host cities have not been picked, but USA is expected to host 60 from the 80 matches of the 2026 FIFA World Cup; including the final round. Experts believe the cities below are the ones with the most potential to host the games:
- Washington, DC
- New York/New Jersey
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- San Jose
While hotels will benefit from it, people who do airbnb renting will also have a great opportunity to raise prices during the whole event and cash in a great amount. But also, our hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup can help invest in infrastructure – especially roads and transportation – which always helps out real estate as a whole, reducing distances, integrating cities and its residents.
What do you think? How do you see us being the 2026 FIFA World Cup Host? Do you think the FIFA World Cup will help or disturb real estate? Well, all we can think about is that we have a few years to learn that weird offside rule and all the soccer lingo. But we’re psyched for the congregation of people and, especially, screaming from the top of our lungs: GOAAAAAAAAL!