The United States has the unseen opportunity to host three successive sporting events on the world’s stage.
The FIFA World Cup comes to the U.S. in 2026 through a shared host with Mexico and Canada. Then, two years later, Los Angeles hosts its third Summer Olympics. Hosting the World Cup and the Olympics in a two-year span is nothing new for the United States. After the 1994 World Cup, Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Games.
The U.S. is not the only country to do this. Brazil 2014 preceded the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. Plus, the 1972 Summer Games in Munich came before the 1974 World Cup, which West Germany hosted.
Yet, what sets the U.S. apart in 2026 to 2028 is the potential of adding a third major tournament.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup, the premier sporting event for women’s sports outside the Summer and Winter Olympics, is seeking its host in 2027. Despite the 2027 edition being just the tenth in the history of the competition, the U.S. hosted back-to-back tournaments in 1999 and 2003.
On April 19, 2023, US Soccer officially announced a joint bid with Mexico to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup. In the past, there was the possibility of the United States diverting its interest to 2031. However, this official bid formally brings about the possibility of three-straight years of massive tournaments in the United States. The men’s World Cup in 2026 and the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 are locked in, and the next step is the Women’s World Cup in between.
Here is what that would mean if the U.S. is able to secure all three tournaments.
The U.S. hosting three successive sporting events on the world stage
While the U.S. is quite familiar with hosting major sporting events, hosting this many in a short span of time could put a strain on the country.
However, the U.S. is perhaps the sports-centric nation in the world. Facilities and stadiums are no shortage. Plus, commuting between cities should be more than feasible.
Of course, the size of the U.S. makes that a little more tricky. For example, in the 1994 World Cup, South Korea started the group stage in Dallas against Spain. Then, six days later, South Korea was in Massachusetts to play Bolivia. Four days after that, the Koreans were back in Dallas against Germany.
In 2014, Brazil built and renovated 12 stadiums. Brazil payed between $220 and $330 million to build some of the most lavish stadiums in the world. Just a handful of years removed from the tournament, these stadiums fell apart. Not literally, per se, but the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha made headlines for turning into a bus depot not even a year after the World Cup.
In the United States, the NFL’s and college football’s extensive use of major stadiums would lessen the spending required to update stadiums. There would need to be some updates, yes. For example, catering to modern needs at a place like FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., or making some NFL stadiums fit for soccer fields.
However, there are seldom times in the United States where these stadiums are not in use. The NFL season might lead to some hiccups in terms of ensuring that these stadiums are up to par, but FIFA will surely make sure that happens.
Thom Meredith, who worked as operations at different stadiums for the 1994 World Cup, 1996 Olympics and 1999 Women’s World Cup among other competitions, says FIFA requires stadiums to be dark for three months before the World Cup and one month afterwards.
“In my experience,” Meredith said, “the only way the stadiums overcome that is for NFL owners to band together and tell FIFA executives ‘we are not doing that‘.”
The Summer Olympics in 2028 only take place in Los Angeles. Therefore, only the Rose Bowl, the LA Coliseum and SoFi Stadium would be in use for those games if required. The Rose Bowl, however, which saw Brandi Chastain score the game-winning penalty against China, would be a potential host for games in all three of the competitions because of its history.
The Rose Bowl has experience compensating for a number of games in a short amount of time. It embodies the popularity and size of Los Angeles. However, it could face fatigue, as could the fans in the United States.
Sports is a constant in the U.S., but putting three successive sporting events lasting a month in the same country could prove detrimental to the overall enjoyment. With a country going from the World Cup to the Olympics two years later, or vice versa, it is different. With the Olympics, one city basks in the glory of being the viewing point of the world for two weeks. Meanwhile, the World Cup’s expansive nature over a country, or three in the case of 2026, dips into cities for no more than five games.
Fatigue for fans dealing with massive influx of visitors from other countries could be a real concern for Americans.
Thom Meredith mentioned the fact that this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Some will feel obligated to go in order to not miss out on the festivities. Therefore, someone in Los Angeles will spend hundreds on tickets to the men’s World Cup, Women’s World Cup and Olympics all in a three-year span. Then, take into account other people from across the U.S., which must then spend money on airfare or other transportation to get to these major events.
Fatigue also exists with sponsors and TV broadcasters in charge of the event. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are major sponsors with FIFA and the Olympics. Companies shell out millions of dollars during the competitions. However, during the potential three successive sporting events, these sponsors hit largely the same audience.
Hosting three successive sporting events on the scale of the World Cup and Olympics means one thing, even if it is the same sponsors.
“It’s pretty simple. It sounds crass, but it is part of it. Money. It is television, spectators. This is a big event country. People come here [to the U.S.], people spend their time here.“
Money is at the forefront of why the U.S. would want to hose these events. Yes, it is a chance to show off the sporting prowess of the nation. However, due to the fact the this country is so easy to get to for so many people, the profits are considerable.
This is especially true given the fact that the infrastructure of the U.S. is among the best in the world. There are certainly instances of improvement required. Los Angeles is no exception. Well-documented instances of traffic around the city and a $14 billion upgrade to LAX are things for organizer to keep in mind.
Yet, the main flaw in the U.S. hosting the World Cup, Women’s World Cup and Olympics is the distance between cities. The U.S. does not have to spend billions on stadiums like Brazil, Russia, and Qatar. Undoubtedly, billions will be spent, such is the nature of hosting major tournaments.
Yet, there is no country better equipped to take on this potential challenge like the United States. The official bid now in for the 2027 Women’s World Cup is now in full effect. Right now, there are official bids in from Brazil, Germany/Belgium/Netherlands and South Africa, along with the US/Mexico bid. Moreover, there is interest from South American and European countries.
If the US and Mexico can secure the rights, it would be a historic three years for hosting sports in one country.
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