Washington and Baltimore Merge World Cup Bids, Matches Proposed at M&T Bank Stadium

| April 25, 2022 | 0 Comments

After being rumored for several months, it is now confirmed that Washington, D.C. and Baltimore are teaming up on a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Events DC and Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland made the announcement on April 21st.

The reason for the joint bid is due to FedEx Field in Landover, which is home of the Washington Commanders (formerly Redskins and Washington Football Team), not receiving high marks, according to The Washington Post.

All the matches, however many that might be, will be held at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Washington, D.C. would host a flagship FIFA Fan Festival on the National Mall.

The Fan Festival would be held in conjunction with the United States’ celebration of its 250th anniversary on July 4th.Washington, D.C. officials “estimate more than one million attendees, which could become the largest single-day attendance number in FIFA Fan Fest™ history.”

FedEx Field was built in 1997 and started out with a capacity of more than 91,000. However, due to declining Redskins/Washington Football Team attendance, seats were pulled out reducing the capacity to 67,717.

The stadium has suffered a number of issues this past football season including a pipe, which was thought to be sewage, bursting and emptying out onto a section, as well as a rail collapsing near the tunnel. In the latter incident, fans fell on to the field nearly landing on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

FedEx Field, which is located about five miles outside of Washington, D.C., is almost a mile from a Metro stop.

By comparison, the Ravens are continually renovating M&T Bank Stadium and recently completed a $120-million upgrade with more improvements under consideration following new legislation that allows the stadium to have $600 million in bond debt. Baltimore’s stadium is next to Downtown, has its own Light Rail train station, and is just a few blocks from a MARC train station. M&T Bank Stadium is 32 miles from the Washington, D.C. line.

Baltimore hosted FIFA officials on September 19th during the Chiefs vs. Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium when the Ravens came back to win in exciting fashion.

“I think we presented the declaration that we are a can-do city. We are authentic and our stadium comes alive for big events,” Maryland Sports Commission Terry Hasseltine told SouthBMore.com following the game. Maryland Sports Commission has been leading Baltimore’s World Cup campaign.

M&T Bank Stadium is also surrounded by underway, mixed-used developments such as the Warner Street District, Stadium Crossing, and Stadium Square.

The Baltimore bid previously proposed sites such as South Point in Port Covington, Federal Hill Park, the Inner Harbor promenade, Fort McHenry, and Harbor Point for the official World Cup fan fest. Hasseltine told SouthBMore.com that in the new partnership with Washington, D.C., Baltimore would still have a Fan Fest, but not the “flagship” event.

“I am extremely excited to join forces with the District of Columbia to strengthen our bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2026,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott in a press release. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring another world-class event to Charm City. Mayor Bowser and I want to ensure we give our cities the best opportunity to win this major event which will provide massive economic boosts for both urban centers.”

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, co-chair of Baltimore Maryland 2026, said in a press release, “We are pleased to merge our Baltimore, Maryland World Cup bid with Washington, DC.  The combination of our two world-class cities in the Capital Region will provide FIFA with exceptional soccer facilities for match play in Baltimore, and the grandeur of the nation’s capital for cultural activities to celebrate the World Cup in the United States.”

The South Baltimore Now Podcast Latest Episodes Produced by Nathan Carper: https://www.natecarpercreative.com

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.