06-13-2018 | Patch.com
| Daniel Hubbard
BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — World Cup matches could be played at MetLife Stadium in 2026 thanks to the world's biggest soccer tournament returning to North America.
FIFA association members in Moscow Wednesday voted to approve the joint North American bid of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup. Morocco was the only other country bidding for the hosting rights.
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford was listed along with 22 other candidate host locations as part of the bid. The other 16 United States locations include Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Dallas.
A final list of 16 cities, which is slated to include 10 in the United States
, will be finalized in 2021, according to The New York Times.
Governor Phil Murphy said he was "thrilled" at that united bid was accepted.
"MetLife Stadium is an internationally-renowned facility with first-class amenities. " Murphy said. "The Meadowlands region includes hundreds of hotels to house fans from all over the world and first-rate entertainment, shopping and dining, all just across the river from New York City."
It will be the first time the World Cup will have three host nations
, CNN reported.
Sixty of the tournament's 80 games will be played in the United States
, according to The New York Times.
It will be the second time the Meadowlands will host World Cup matches. Matches were held at MetLife Stadium's predecessor, Giants Stadium, when the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.
"New Jersey has hosted World Cup matches before and we are more than ready to do so again," Murphy said.
The soon-to-open American Dream Meadowlands entertainment destination
, Meadowlands Racetrack, thousands of hotel rooms, and being a stone's throw away from New York City could bolster the Meadowlands' chances of being named in the final group of 10 cities.
"I'm going to be the eternal optimist. I find it hard to believe that we wouldn't have some type of significant games played at the Meadowlands," said Jim Kirkos, president and CEO of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce. "The region will be new and exciting. We're minutes away from the greatest city in the world. We'll have plenty of room for people."
Soccer's popularity in the area also gives the Meadowlands a leg up in being in the final draw of cities chosen.
"Soccer is big in this region and we've already hosted international soccer matches there featuring teams from Italy, England, South America, and the Middle East," Kirkos said. "It says a lot about MetLife and our ability to attract the biggest, most attractive events in the world."