FIFA officials to tour Levi's Stadium in Bay Area's bid to host 2026 World Cup

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Come 2026, soccer's most prestigious tournament could bring the world's biggest soccer players and fans to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

The Bay Area's bid to host the 2026 World Cup is backed by some big names like the 49ers, Salesforce, Google, Visa, Airbnb and others announced here. The mayors of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose are also on-board.

According to a release out on Wednesday, the Bay Area Host Committee will welcome FIFA officials to Levi's Stadium for a site visit.

The businesses and officials mentioned prior are set to "showcase the Bay Area to FIFA officials, highlight the area's rich history of soccer, and make the case for the Bay Area as a natural host for one of the largest sporting events in the world."

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"We know that we've got a great tradition of soccer here in the Bay Area," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told ABC7 News. "Whether it's the San Jose Earthquakes or going back to Copa América, or the World Cup way back in '94. We've shown that we are a soccer-crazed community, and we'd love to have the World Cup right here."

Twenty-two cities across the three countries are being considered as host cites.

FIFA officials are expected to examine each stadium's capabilities to be a host venue and whether the surrounding region is suitable.

They plan to visit Levi's Stadium this upcoming weekend.

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"Anytime you're talking about an international event or one at that level, you're talking about the kind of multiculturalism that we really celebrate here in Santa Clara County," Sen. Dave Cortese added. "In fact, it should be our calling card. It's actually who we are."

Sen. Cortese said the World Cup would bring the potential for the region to rebound from pandemic losses, understanding major events draw big money.

"People don't go to an event like this without spilling over into restaurants, into clubs, into tourist areas," Sen. Cortese shared. "Trying to come out of this pandemic, it fills tables. It gets cash registers going and it's just so needed right now."

Mayor Liccardo said, "This is the kind of event of a scale that's going to fill hotels all over the region. There are going to be events all over."

Fans agree and tell ABC7 News, it's an achievable goal, knowing the Bay Area has been the backdrop for many premier national and global events.

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"We are Silicon Valley. We are, you know, known and present on the map," San Jose resident Maggie Del Rio said. "So I think it would draw a great crowd. We have the weather for it and we definitely do have a great location for it."

"This is an incredible opportunity. This is the equivalent of having a half dozen Super Bowls in a period of a month," Mayor Liccardo continued.

Sen. Cortese added, "We have a transportation system going to this stadium with VTA light rail- that can be beefed up, so to speak- to handle crowd capacities and get people to other places that they want to go."

He also referenced BART just a couple miles away.

"People could be coming in all the way from San Francisco if they want, or staying here in San Jose, and then after afterwards heading off to somewhere else in the Bay Area," he continued.

"I just think those are all the kinds of things that are looked at when these bids are in play," Sen. Cortese shared.

A decision is expected to be made by early next year.
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