Organizers overseeing a North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup trimmed the list of potential host cities to 32 Wednesday, cutting seven U.S. hopefuls and two Canadian prospects.
No longer under consideration: Birmingham, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and San Antonio, plus Regina and Ottawa in Canada.
Last month, San Diego, Green Bay and Calgary dropped out of contention.
The U.S. front-runners: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.
Other U.S. candidates: Baltimore, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Tampa.
If the bid is successful, the United States would stage 60 matches in about a dozen venues. Mexico and Canada would have 10 games apiece.
All three Mexican bidding cities (Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey) are widely expected to make the final cut. Canada will probably settle for two venues, with Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Edmonton in the running.
Representatives from the 32 remaining cities will gather in Houston next month for a working session with the United Bid Committee, which is leading the campaign to bring the World Cup to North America for the first time since 1994. Morocco is also bidding. FIFA will announce the winner in June.
The North American campaign will probably include between 20 and 25 cities from the three countries in the formal bid, which must be submitted to FIFA by March 18. If successful, the North American committee would then work with soccer’s international governing body in the coming years to finalize about 16 specific venues in all for the first World Cup with 48 teams (a 50 percent increase).