- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The District wants to become a host city for the 2026 World Cup, with matches held at nearby FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. 

The city’s interest has been known for years. But on Tuesday, “DC 2026” officially launched and announced a 40-member advisory board. Its three co-chairs are D.C. United goalkeeper and Northern Virginia native Bill Hamid, Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein and EventsDC chairman Max Brown.

Other notable names on the board include Monumental Sports and Entertainment executives Sashi Brown and Monica Dixon, Washington Spirit owner Steve Baldwin, philanthropist chef Jose Andres and Washington Redskins CFO Stephen Choi.

The U.S., Canada and Mexico will serve as joint hosts of the 2026 World Cup and 48 teams will compete, a sharp increase from the traditional 32.

The District and nearby Baltimore are two of 17 American markets bidding for matches. It’s expected that 10 will be selected, along with three Canadian and three Mexican locations.

Also in the running are New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Cincinnati, Nashville, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle.

The “DC 2026” bid claims that the District has hosted more U.S. national team matches than any other city. It has also hosted Men’s and Women’s World Cup matches in the past, but those were played at RFK Stadium, which is in disrepair and scheduled for demolition no later than 2021.

Instead, the Redskins’ FedEx Field — itself a target of criticism by local sports fans for its lack of appeal — would host matches in the District’s bid. D.C. United’s Audi Field, the Maryland SoccerPlex, Trinity Washington University and the Fields at RFK Campus would be practice sites for teams in town, the Washington Post reported.

Baltimore, if selected, would host matches at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium. The city’s bid is asking for petition signatures to endorse Baltimore’s candidacy, and Cal Ripken Jr. and Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford recently voiced their support.

Bid leaders told Capital News Service in 2017 that they do not view the District and Baltimore as being in direct competition with one another, and it isn’t out of the question that both cities could be selected. A decision is expected sometime next year.

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