WASHINGTON - One day before the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament kicks off, a major announcement comes out of Russia. The international games are coming to the US, Canada, and Mexico in 2026.
The joint North American bid beat one from Morocco. Some US cities have put their bid to be a part of the action. DC and Baltimore are among the finalists who could be chosen to host some of the games.
With this announcement, local officials will be pushing to bring the games to the area, saying it could bring in hundreds of millions of tourism dollars on hotels, restaurants, and other retail.
Local soccer team DC United will soon be moving to Audi Field, but the new stadium is too small to host a FIFA World Cup game. The only venue big enough to host a FIFA World Cup event is FedEx Field, unless there’s a new stadium. And with the games not for another eight years, could a new stadium help attract the FIFA World Cup?
"It’s a hurry up and wait situation we won’t know until 2020," says Elliott Ferguson with Destination DC.
He says his team has already made a push to get the games played in this region, and that effort will continue.
"Right now FedEx Field, our metro system, the number of hotel rooms, the things we have to offer as a region are a positive," says Ferguson.
FedEx field is currently the venue because it’s size and seat count. But most admit a new stadium could help attract the FIFA World Cup games. Could the Redskins build a new stadium at RFK? Or maybe one in Northern Virginia. No plans have been made at this point.
A spokesperson for Prince George’s County Executive Rashurn Baker said in a statement: “We will support any efforts to attract soccer fans and tourists to Prince George’s County, the state of Maryland, and the Capital region”
"If they come they are going to create a tremendous economic impact for the entire region," says Brian Kenner, DC Deputy Mayor of Economic Development.
He says no matter where the games are held, all in the region benefit.
"I think the odds are good, we are a cosmopolitan city. We've got lots of different ethnicities, lots of different countries, nationalities that are represented here," he says.
The lease on FedEx field expires in 2027. The North American pitch needs to be out before 2020. So there could be a new stadium at another location, but unless plans are on the table in the next two years. Area officials say FedEx Field is still a viable option because of its location and proximity to transportation.