Reports Suggest Washington’s World Cup Bid May Need to Include M&T Bank Stadium

| January 24, 2022 | 0 Comments

Baltimore is aiming to be one of the 10 United States host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup hosted by North America, however the bid from Washington, D.C. may now need to also include Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. The Washington Post’s recent report by soccer writer Steven Goff suggests FedEx Field in Landover, which is the home of the Washington Football Team, did not receive high marks from FIFA.

From The Washington Post:

Washington might have to consolidate its 2026 World Cup venue bid with Baltimore because of concerns about the viability of playing at FedEx Field, a major blow to the city’s efforts of hosting soccer’s marquee event, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

As part of a joint regional effort, Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium would become the area’s game venue and the District would stage nongame events, such as large-scale watch parties on the National Mall, said two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to openly discuss the situation.

In the fall, Washington received high marks for its presentation to FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, but FedEx Field, a Landover venue plagued with problems for years, did not, those people said.

Also from the article:

Terry Hasseltine, executive director of the Maryland Sports Commission, which is leading Baltimore’s campaign, said the suggestion of a Baltimore-Washington bid “has been put out there [by fans], but it’s something we are leaving to the international and national governing body to determine what is the best case for the United States.”

He added, “We’ve been very clear from our position — and D.C. has been very clear in their position — that we have two separate entities, and should [organizers] determine otherwise, that is up to them.”

Hasseltine also said neither the U.S. Soccer Federation nor FIFA has suggested a merger at this time.

Hasseltine said the following in an interview on 105.7 The Fan when asked about the World Cup wanting games in this region because of the proximity to the nation’s capital:

If Washington, D.C is not represented in our portfolio of opportunity, it’d be the first time a nation’s capital hasn’t been associated with a World Cup in its most recent stretch. That being said, the great part about the greater DMV area is our proximity to one another. There’s ways we can possibly move this forward and be able to highlight both Baltimore and D.C. in the process. And then FIFA and U.S. Soccer and the world would get a chance to see our nation’s capital, but still be understanding that games and other things might be played in Baltimore. It’s not uncommon to other cities where their stadiums are in the outskirts. The distance between D.C. and Baltimore is not all that significant.

There’s also an opportunity here to do something up and down the eastern seaboard with New York and Philadelphia, as well as D.C. There’s the opportunity to do something really unique and to really make an I-95 fan and travel experience that could be second to none in any World Cup.

Hasseltine also said in the 105.7 The Fan interview that he expects a decision from FIFA sometime in March to early-May.

In the Japan and South Korea World Cup in 2002, games were played about 20 miles outside of Japan’s capital of Tokyo.

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

The stadium has suffered a number of issues this football season including a pipe 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 in the suburb of Landover 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, recently completing a $240-million upgrade with more improvements under consideration. 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.

Hasseltine said on 105.7 The Fan that some slight renovations would need to be made to M&T Bank Stadium in the corner of the bowl to meet the pitch width standards for World Cup soccer.

The Baltimore bid has also proposed sites such as South Point in Port Covington, Federal Hill Park, the Inner Harbor promenade, Fort McHenry, and Harbor Point for a World Cup fan fest.

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,” Hasseltine told SouthBMore.com following the game.

Listen to SouthBMore.com’s SoBo Spotlight Podcast in September with Terry Hasseltine

Photo from a Liverpool F.C. vs. Tottenham Hotspur F.C. game at M&T Bank Stadium in 2012

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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 [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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