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Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums from worst to best

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums

The 2026 World Cup to be staged in North America now feels a bit more real. FIFA has revealed the 16 cities across the United States, Mexico and Canada that will play host to 48 national sides. This will surely become a record-breaking World Cup.

There were a few surprises in the selection, in terms of which venues were left out. Plus nearly the entire midwest US is a blank spot on the map. Overall, though, it’s a good mix of geography and climates, and new and historic venues.

We’re going to rank the 16 venues from worst to first, under various criteria. That includes overall venue aesthetics, location, soccer history, and so on. Note: while natural grass fields will surely be installed for every venue (unlike the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada which was played entirely on plastic), any venue that normally utilizes an artificial surface and will require a conversion is automatically ranked lower than a venue that always has real grass. This list is entirely subjective of course, but it should be fun nonetheless!

Ranking the 2026 World Cup Stadiums

16. Gillette Stadium / Foxborough, MA

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: Gillette Stadium

Opened: 2002 / Capacity: 65,878

Gillette Stadium has perhaps hosted the most soccer matches of any American venue on the list, as home ground for the New England Revolution of MLS for two decades now. And it sits on a World Cup historic site, as it replaced Foxboro Stadium which hosted matches in 1994. But it loses points for Gillette Stadium far-flung suburban location (listed as “Boston” during the selection show, but it’s actually a slightly closer drive to Providence, RI than to Boston) and artificial surface.

15. MetLife Stadium / East Rutherford, NJ

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: MetLife Stadium

Opened: 2010 / Capacity: 82,500

The cavernous home to the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants has hosted its share of friendlies and international soccer matches since it opened, and is another replacement to a previous World Cup venue. It shares the same spot in the Meadowlands as its predecessor Giants Stadium, and sadly when they designed it they really just made a 21st century version of that 1970s behemoth, lacking any real character, with no open views of the iconic New York skyline across the Hudson.

14. NRG Stadium / Houston, TX

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: NRG Stadium

Opened: 2002 / Capacity: 72,220

Built for the NFL’s most recent expansion team, the Houston Texans, and opened in 2002, NRG Stadium has found its way onto the international soccer circuit, hosting various national team games and summer tournament action over its tenure as Houston’s main entertainment venue. But it switched over to artificial turf in 2015, which will necessitate a conversion ahead of the World Cup come 2026.

NRG has a retractable roof system that will allow for natural grass to grow while still being able to keep the venue cool inside during the scorching summer Texas heat. In addition to hosting NFL football and soccer, NRG Stadium has also been the host venue for the NCAA Final Four basketball finals and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Besides gridiron football, that was the other primary reason the building was constructed.

13. AT&T Stadium / Arlington, TX

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: AT&T Stadium

Opened: 2009 / Capacity: Up to 100,000

One of the most expensive sports venues ever built, AT&T Stadium is known for its high capacity of seats and its massive video board (the largest HDTV screen in the world when it was installed). A frequent stop for Mexico on their tours of the US, and in the CONCACAF Gold Cup rotation of frequent host venues, it immediately became a big time soccer stadium. One of the “Swiss army knife” venues on the list that has hosted a range of sports and major events, including the NBA All-Star game in 2010, which set the world record for basketball attendance with a crowd of 108,713.

12. BC Place / Vancouver, BC

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: BC Place

Opened: 1983 (Renovated 2009-2011) / Capacity: 54,405

Originally an air-supported dome (it was the largest in the world), BC Place underwent major renovations beginning in 2009 to prepare it as the main venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Its now-distinctive retractable roof was installed after the Olympics in 2010, ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps making their move from USL to MLS in 2011. BC Place hosted the 2015 Women’s World Cup final, which saw the USA defeat Japan for their 3rd world title. In 2014, the venue hosted the NHL’s Heritage Classic event, making it one of the few World Cup venues to have also hosted an ice hockey game.

11. Lumen Field / Seattle, WA

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: Lumen Field

Opened: 2002 / Capacity: 68,740

The home of the Sounders made playing in big NFL stadiums feasible again for American soccer teams when they moved up from USL 2009 and shattered MLS attendance records. Known for its raucous supporter section for the Sounders, and “12th Man” during Seahawks NFL games (at one point the venue held the Guinness Record for loudest in the world), Lumen Field will definitely produce a great atmosphere for the World Cup. The relatively drier climate during the summer should make it one of the better venues that requires a conversion from artificial turf.

10. SoFi Stadium / Inglewood, CA

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: SoFi Stadium

Opened: 2020 / Capacity: Up To 100,000

The newest stadium amongst the hosts for 2026, the NFL’s palace for both the Rams and Chargers is the most expensive sports venue ever. SoFi boasts a huge capacity, a stunning roof and unique video board.  Due to its newness, SoFi has yet to host a soccer match, but it will host a doubleheader of friendlies in August of 2022 when the LA Galaxy and LAFC host Chivas and Club América respectively. Like Vancouver’s BC Place, SoFi will also become an Olympic Stadium, set to host the 2028 opening and closing ceremonies. A decent bet to host the Final in 2026, SoFi was selected over the Rose Bowl, beating out the historic local venue that hosted the 1994 Men’s and 1999 Women’s World Cup Finals.

However, there’s still a lot of work to do. As it currently stands, SoFi Stadium isn’t wide enough to play soccer games.

9. Mercedes-Benz Stadium / Atlanta, GA

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Opened: 2017 / Capacity: 71,000

Constructed with soccer in mind from the start, Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium has become a hot spot for the sport as MLS’s Atlanta United burst on to the scene in 2017, surprising many and becoming a club with one of the highest average attendances in the world. The stadium is one of the more visually distinctive in the tournament, with Mercedes-Benz Stadium futuristic origami-like exterior and large circular opening and video board above mid-field. And Mercedes-Benz Stadium location right on the edge of Atlanta’s vibrant downtown and Centennial Olympic Park area will make for a great match day environment.

8. BMO Field / Toronto, ON

Ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums: BMO Field

Opened: 2007 / Capacity: 45,500 (expanding to this figure for the tournament)

Toronto was left out of the 2015 Women’s World Cup festivities, but they’ll be hosting in 2026 in the only Canadian or American stadium on the list that was specifically built for soccer. Originally a bit of a bare-bones venue, from 2014-16 BMO was significantly expanded and renovated, to include 30,000 seats and a canopy roof over three sides of the stadium.

This renovation came with a catch, though, as it was done to accommodate the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts moving in as full-time co-tenants. But the upgrades have vastly improved the stadium in terms of looks and atmosphere. To meet minimum capacity requirements, the stadium will be expanded again ahead of the 2026 World Cup. BMO uses a hybrid field surface, a mix of real grass and synthetic fibers, so it is also unclear if they will need a full pitch replacement or keep the existing field system for 2026.

7. Levi’s Stadium / Santa Clara, CA

Opened: 2014 / Capacity: 68,500

Located just outside of San Jose at the southern tip of San Francisco Bay, Levi’s Stadium is relatively new and does not have a regular soccer tenant, but it does bring pedigree with the sport. The venue hosted three group matches and a quarterfinal in the 2016 Copa América Centenario, the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final, as well as a number of international friendly matches and a few MLS regular season games. This is the first venue on our list that regularly uses an entirely natural grass surface.

6. Arrowhead Stadium / Kansas City, MO

Opened: 1972 (renovated 2010) / Capacity: 76,416

A surprise host selection to be sure, but a welcome one. KC’s Arrowhead Stadium is the second-oldest venue in the tournament, and the only one located in the American midwest, but it’s fantastic to have a more historic American venue hosting some matches. The distinctive profile of the upper bowl and the oval video boards and each end will definitely add a 1970s retro flare to the competition. While Arrowhead was a lackluster home to MLS’s Kansas City Wiz/Wizards from 1996-2007, the city has since become one of the great American soccer towns.

The venue will need some modifications/improvements to bring it up to FIFA standards, and Arrowhead Stadium long term status as home of the NFL’s Chiefs may be in doubt, but it should have no effect on the great environment Arrowhead Stadium sure to produce for the tournament. Original Chiefs owner and NASL & MLS co-founder Lamar Hunt would surely be proud to see KC hosting the sport’s biggest event.

5. Lincoln Financial Field / Philadelphia, PA

Opened: 2003 / Capacity: 68,879

That capital city of the USA was left out of the festivities for 2026. But the nation’s first capital will get its share of the action (can we get a USA vs. England knockout game in Philly on July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence? Thanks soccer gods).

Located in the South Philly Sports Complex with great views of the city skyline out of its northern end zone, “The Linc” should prove to be a fine host. While primarily an NFL stadium, the first ticketed event at the venue was a soccer friendly between Manchester United and FC Barcelona, and the Philadelphia Union began their existence there. It also was host to the 2016 Copa América Centenario and several CONCACAF Gold Cups.

4. Estadio Akron / Zapopan, Jalsico

Opened: 2010 / Capacity: 48,071

Definitely the most visually unique stadium in the tournament, and more akin to some of the brand new venues we’ve seen built for recent World Cups, Guadalajara’s Estadio Akron is built into a manmade grass-covered hill. Home to the massive Liga MX side Chivas, this is a world-class soccer venue, pure and simple. In addition to being the home ground for Chivas, the venue has also hosted the 2010 Copa Libertadores Finals, the 2011 PanAm Games, and the 2011 U-17 World Cup.

3. Estadio BBVA / Guadalupe, Nuevo León

Opened: 2015 / Capacity: 51,000

The home to CF Monterrey since 2015, Estadio BBVA is distinctive due to its steel, UFO-like exterior. But what has it this high on the list is the stunning view of the Cerro de la Silla, or “Saddle Hill” rising over the roof of the stadium. This is another modern, true soccer stadium with all the bells-and-whistles, and it offers an unrivaled location set amongst the natural beauty of Mexico. This is really one of the showcase venues of the tournament.

2.  Estadio Azteca / Tlalpan, Mexico City

Opened: 1966 (renovated 2016) / Capacity: 87,523

A true icon of world football. Host to not one, but two World Cup Finals. The “Hand of God.” The “Game of the Century.” “The Goal of the Century.” They all happened here. The menacing (especially for other nations in CONCACAF) Azteca is the oldest stadium set to host games in 2026, but with that age comes 60 years of glorious history. Though the honor will likely go to one of the more modern American stadiums, it would be fabulous to see Azteca host the final match once again. But including this temple of the game at all in the tournament is a fine tribute itself, and it will be thrilling to see new unforgettable moments take place at this legendary stadium.

1. Hard Rock Stadium / Miami Gardens, FL

Opened: 1987 (renovated 2015) / Capacity: 64,767

Am I being a bit of a homer with this pick? Absolutely. But Hard Rock (I still call it Joe Robbie Stadium) has everything going for it. Modern amenities, a cosmopolitan location, a roof to protect fans from the summer heat and rain, and an overall striking visual appearance.

In its original form, the stadium was always intended to host soccer (Dolphins and Fort Lauderdale Strikers owner Joe Robbie had it built with a wider-than normal field area to accommodate soccer), but it was passed over for the 1994 World Cup due to hosting MLB’s Florida Marlins during the summer. The Marlins’ tenure did end up making this the only World Cup stadium to have also hosted the World Series, so that’s a fun fact. But now it will finally get its moment in the soccer spotlight. The 2015 renovations completely transformed the venue from a somewhat sterile 1980s cookie cutter style stadium into an iconic new entertainment hub. The stadium now hosts a major tennis tournament, a F1 race, and frequent concerts in addition to its normal American football duties.

The square open roof suspended over the stands and corner pedestrian spiral ramps make it look a little like Milan’s San Siro. Perhaps more than any other venue in 2026, Hard Rock has the look and feel of some of the big European stadiums we’re accustomed to seeing high-profile soccer played in. I’ve seen friendlies and national team games at the stadium, but it will be something special to see it on the biggest stage of all.

And there we have it. Whatever your favorite stadium for 2026 is, there are 16 amazing communities set to host. And every one of them is sure to pack the stadiums and streets with fans, producing an electric experience that may well eclipse anything these three countries, and the world, as ever seen.

Let us know your feedback on our ranking World Cup 2026 Stadiums, and your opinions on which stadiums should host the semifinals and final of World Cup 2026.

 

Photo credits: Getty Images

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Elden

    June 25, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    Anyone know why Las Vegas wasn’t chosen as a host city??? Seems to me that a 70,000 seat, domed stadium with unrivaled access to hotels, restaurants and transportation, not to mention an AMAZING view of the Vegas strip would be a “no-brainer” option for a WC venue.

  2. Weeds

    June 24, 2022 at 9:49 am

    Does anyone at World Soccer Talk have the slightest clue as to how conversion from turf to grass works? These stadiums will not be tearing up existing surfaces and planting grass. They will be installing a temporary grass surface on top of the turf surface. The ability to do this has evolved considerably, to the point that it’s nearly indistinguishable from a permanent grass field.

    • dave

      June 24, 2022 at 2:09 pm

      @Weeds, do you have details on how the process evolved? My understanding is a few years old, but I thought grass on top of turf created issues with seams and footing. Similar to placing a basketball court on top of a hockey rink. Sounds like it may be a lot better now. Curious how it works

  3. Frosty

    June 24, 2022 at 4:39 am

    Miami????..Lol😂😂😂 Does this person know anything about soccer.

  4. agntdrake

    June 23, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    I haven’t been to many of these stadiums, but placing BC Place behind BMO and Levi’s is insanity. BC Place is downtown, is in close proximity to a ton of hotels and bars/restaurants, and has two separate transit lines (with direct access to the airport). Plus it’s just a fantastic stadium.

    Levi’s is in the middle of nowhere, has a crappy light rail line that takes forever, and essentially requires you to drive and park in acres of parking. It’s not close to any hotels or restaurants, and worst of all it doesn’t have any shade, so you bake on one side of the stadium during day games.

    BMO is just garbage. It doesn’t hold a candle to BC Place.

  5. FunnyMan

    June 23, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Funny, the world cup is being played in Qatar this year and the Americans commenting online are complaining about the heat. How does anyone survive without climate control? Most of the world does.

    I think that some of these venues were selected because they are in places that have had strong support for soccer, particularly the US venues. These are good stadiums, but some of the selections, like my hometown of KC, are also a giant thank you to the city for its support of soccer. As was written, Hunt co-founded two soccer leagues and KC is right in the middle of the country. Add in that Arrowhead is one of the best NFL venues in the country and it was kind of a no-brainer selection.

  6. Jorge

    June 23, 2022 at 1:04 am

    Guadalajara and Monterrey stadium are hard to get to and Azteca God don’t even know what and how is gonna end up when they’re finished.
    So fi and Atlanta stadiums are 2 of the best stadiums in the world,pitch size is only drawback for So fi but if it was chosen they’ll get it done.
    Too bad Raiders and Cardinals stadiums were not chosen,great stadiums and easy in and out,nearby airports,hotels,etc.
    Niners stadium is pretty much in the middle of nowhere as far as getting there,we went to watch L.A.Kings vs. San Jose Sharks there a few years ago and it took us almost 2 hours to get there from Downtown San Francisco,there is a Marriot nearby but one hotel won’t help matters any.parking is share with an amusement park next door.
    Once again,West coast got screwed up and east coast gets the most.

  7. Doobie Bro

    June 22, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    The Miami inclusion as #1 is comical. I would put the Chivas stadium as top. It’s amazing and Azteca as second. Legendary.

    • Tony

      June 22, 2022 at 9:42 pm

      Totally agree Doobie Bro !
      I might br tempted to put Azteca #1 though .
      Miami #1 ??????????? Laughable

  8. Lovac1

    June 22, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    I understand the comments about hot weather in the south, but I can’t stand watching soccer indoors. If the field is covered in sunshine, it adds something to the game.

  9. Mercator

    June 22, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    I’m sorry but this is a comically bad list, it’s basically completely backwards. Miami is the absolute worst venue, its outdoors in the hottest part of the country and isn’t even near downtown or south beach. The BEST stadiums are the ones at the back of your list (excluding Foxborough). AT&T, NRG, Mercedes-Benz … these are all fantastic stadiums, climate controlled, and NRG/Mercedes-Benz actually have solid public transit access. SoFi, Lumen, BC PLace – again all fantastic stadiums. Yet somehow the worst stadium on here, BMO, is middle of the pack, as is Arrowhead, again one of the absolute worst stadiums on here.

    • Michael

      June 22, 2022 at 1:06 pm

      @Mercator. I agree. Went to an Orange Bowl on New Year’s day and it was 85 with 99% Humidity. It was horrible!!!! There is absolutely no way that I would voluntarily sit in an outdoor stadium in South Florida in the middle of Summer!!! Yeah, I realize that Miami is cosmopolitan and has a lot of transplanted soccer fans…but in Summer it will be brutal. At least Houston, Dallas, & Atlanta will be indoors.

      • Mercator

        June 22, 2022 at 2:56 pm

        Yea you couldn’t pay me to go to one of the games in Miami, it’s truly brutal and I say this as a native Floridian who keeps the house at 80 year round. KC will have the same problem, it’s actually very warm in summer and zero protection. I would put these two back of the list along with BMO. Proper list would be:

        Mercedes-Benz (has everything, climate controlled, in the city with transit)
        NRG (same as MB but MB is a nicer newer stadium)
        Sofi (best stadium but poor location and transit)
        BBVA (Nice stadium but tbh doesn’t have the insane American amenities)
        Lumen (Actually not an exceptional stadium but great location, weather, city)
        AT&T (prob second best stadium but its in Arlington)
        Azteca (kind of sucks based on hearsay but its legendary)
        BC Place (I had this in tier 2 but moved it up, love Vancouver)
        *Gap*
        Lincoln (nothing special and its philly, tier 2)
        Metlife (actually terrible stadium with terrible transit for NYC)
        Levi (this is actually a nice stadium but no where near SF)
        Akron (idk anything about Chivas stadium tbh so its here by default)
        *Huge gap*
        Gillette (terrible location)
        Arrowhead (hot, not a great stadium, KC parking lot)
        BMO (easily the worst actual stadium on this list)
        Hard Rock (weather 100% ruins it. If it were climate controlled it would be tier 1)

        • Clauuy

          June 22, 2022 at 9:27 pm

          I haven’t been to most of the stadiums but I definitely agree with Miami being brutal in the summer.
          Levi’s stadium is in Santa Clara, over 1 hour from San Francisco in good traffic and the closest airport is San Jose which is not very big so definitely not a convenient location. Just as bad as Gillette stadium which is far from Boston.
          Estadio Azteca is a joke to be in second place.
          First place should be Mercedes Benz which is an impressive stadium in downtown Atlanta, right next to CNN, Centennial Park and so many other attractions, and metro almost at the door of the stadium. And since the writer confused the name with Gillette stadium makes me think that he’s never even been there.

  10. Michael

    June 22, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    @Derek. Was there any explanation why they picked BMO Field instead of Rogers Centre for Toronto? I haven’t been in Toronto in a while….but Rogers was a Huge stadium that has a much bigger capacity and has plenty of room for a full pitch. I am just curious.

    • Dan

      June 22, 2022 at 1:14 pm

      Rogers Centre is poorly configured for soccer (not sure if the width meets FIFA requirements) and would necessitate the Blue Jays leaving town for a month. And the seating capacity for soccer is 47.5k, so not a significant enough boost to make it more attractive than BMO.

      • Michael

        June 22, 2022 at 1:18 pm

        @Dan. Thanks for the info.

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