The $1.9 billion Las Vegas Raiders stadium that’s expected to soon break ground between Russell Road and Hacienda Avenue just west of I-15 and the Strip is still in the running to host 2026 World Cup matches.
The United Bid Committee (UBC), an organization made up of soccer’s governing bodies from the US, Canada, and Mexico, is trying to win the rights from FIFA to host the first expanded 48-team World Cup, with matches spread out across the three countries. In a press release issued this week, the UBC amended its potential host cities list, and Las Vegas made the cut.
The yet-to-be built new Raiders stadium will be just steps from Mandalay Bay, the site of last Sunday’s mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of 58 innocent concertgoers. The open-air concert venue where the massacre occurred is on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard. The location of the new football stadium is west of the Strip.
Long Odds for Las Vegas
Despite still being on the UBC host city list, Las Vegas certainly isn’t a lock. At least 12 cities will be selected if FIFA indeed awards the 2026 World Cup to the UBC, but as of this week, a total of 32 cities remain.
Twenty-five are in the US, four are in Canada, and three are in Mexico. Las Vegas’ desert climate shouldn’t hinder the city’s chances of hosting the World Cup, which is contested during the summer months, as the Raiders stadium will be a domed venue.
Among the American candidate cities is Los Angeles, which will host the Summer Olympics two years later in 2028. Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, are also still aspirants, and all of those cities hosted World Cup matches the last time the US welcomed the soccer spectacle back in 1994.
The UBC proposal would be the first multi-country World Cup host scheme since South Korea and Japan teamed up for the 2002 event.
While Las Vegas might not become a World Cup venue, the US seems to be a lock for the 2026 tournament. The only additional bidder FIFA is considering comes from Morocco. Online sportsbooks aren’t currently even offering lines on the winning host, as most believe the US-Canada-Mexico bid will receive the rights.
FIFA was recently engulfed in an international scandal that involved money laundering, bribery, and widespread corruption, and now is trying to repair its image and brand. It won’t be easy, as the World Cup goes to Russia next year, followed by the highly controversial Qatar, where allegations of human rights and inhumane working conditions have come to light.
Road to 2018 Cup
After going 2-3 in the fifth round of qualifying with 12 goals scored to 11 against, the US national team faces two critical matches in the coming week, the first being Friday against Panama.
Though the Central and South American country has fared better in the fifth round of the qualifying process, the US is heavily favored. Online bookmaker Bovada has the US at -210 to Panama at +650. The odds mean Bovada believes the US has about a 68 percent chance of winning the game.
On Tuesday, the US team plays Trinidad and Tobago. Again, the Americans are big favorites. Two wins assures that the United States soccer team will travel to Russia next summer for the 2018 World Cup. A loss wouldn’t knock the US out of contention, but it would make America’s road to the next World Cup more difficult and less certain.