Four years from now, Atlanta will be one of several cities at the center of attention for soccer fans across the globe. Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium was picked to be one of several venues set to host matches during the FIFA World Cup in 2026.
North America won a bid to host the pinnacle of international soccer in 2018. There will be matches in stadiums in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
There were 23 venues bidding to host soccer matches at the 2026 World Cup. Thursday evening, FIFA announced its final decision.
Which World Cup matches will be hosted in Atlanta?
It was not immediately clear where the World Cup would open, what rounds would be played at what venues, or where knockout rounds and the semifinals would be played. Many experts speculate Atlanta is in the running for at least one knockout round or possibly a semifinal match.
Both Atlanta and Dallas had been floated as host cities for the semifinals. They also have been suggested to the location fo the international broadcast center.
What is known is Atlanta will likely host five to six games over a 30-day span. An announcement on where the matches will be held likely will not come until early 2023.
What is the expected economic impact of the World Cup in Atlanta?
Economic benefit doesn’t come without investment.
The big difference between a World Cup match and an Atlanta United match is the turf. Gone will be the fake stuff and in will be real grass for the duration of the 2026 matches. Installation is planned to be complete in February 2026 with the stadium starting the conversion to handle real turf over the next two years. That will go back to turf for the Falcons and Atlanta United after that.
That is a small price to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars in expected revenue. Some experts equate a single World Cup match to one Super Bowl game. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce estimated Super Bowl LIII has an economic impact between $350 to $400 million.
Furthermore, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said The Gulch and Centennial Olympic Park areas will look different than they do now.
“Some of those areas that are gaps in infrastructure, you’re going to buildings and connectivity,” Dickens said.
Gov. Brian Kemp said the state’s focus will be on security.
A study by the Boston Consulting Group during the initial bid process forecasted the matches could contribute $5 billion in new economic activity with $415 million alone for the city of Atlanta.
Many are suggesting this is an impact both in size, shape, and money not seen since the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Atlanta has experience hosting large sporting events since 1996 including Super Bowl LIII, the College Football Playoff National Championship and World Series games.
The College Football Championship game will return to Atlanta in 2025. The last time it was here was the same year that FIFA officials first toured Atlanta.