The decision on where to host the final of the world’s biggest sporting event has been narrowed down to just two stadiums, and according to Gov. Phil Murphy, one is in the Garden State.
Murphy confirmed that FIFA officials were in North Jersey this week to get another look at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford before making a decision on where the final for the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be held.
The governor said the Garden State is vying with Texas to be home to the final but that the decision matters to all 16 host cities.
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“They're going around, but they've been pretty clear publicly that it's Dallas or here in our bid with New York City,” Murphy said. “It's not just the final. That means every stadium gets their package of games. So you don't know the teams yet, but you know the dates and you know what you're going to sell generally.”
The FIFA president was in New York City and attended the Jets game against the New England Patriots on Sunday before his technical team took a tour of the stadium on Wednesday, Murphy said.
Murphy noted that the organization previously mentioned a decision coming in September or October and that he thinks “everybody wants to have it go sooner than later.”
Will MetLife Stadium be ready?
Much of the burden to prepare for the World Cup will fall to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and its board of commissioners. The authority is responsible for operations at the MetLife Sports Complex, including the stadium that houses the Jets and Giants.
They've already hired construction companies and architects to get the stadium into shape.
Last summer, the authority received $30 million in taxpayer funds to plan designs and upgrades at MetLife Stadium and the surrounding property. That will include a contract worth nearly $16 million — $15,989,722 exactly — for expansion of MetLife Stadium.
The authority previously said construction plans will be reviewed by the Department of Community Affairs as part of the permitting process. The authority has also said it "regularly coordinates with Trenton on World Cup-related matters."
In addition to the expansion work, that $30 million includes $5 million for the host committee in the form of a revolving loan and $669,497 that has been paid to the stadium for reimbursement of costs related to design and pre-construction work.
Work to bring some of the games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup to East Rutherford has been underway for years. The effort began in 2017, after a delay caused by the infamous 2015 FIFA corruption case over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar.
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Sixteen venues around North America
This will be the first time the first men's tournament is split among multiple countries, with games in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In June, FIFA announced the 16 game venues: East Rutherford, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle in the United States; Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey in Mexico; and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.
But getting the stadium — and the region, with $35 million being spent by NJ Transit for designs on transit systems to serve the venue — to meet the strict requirements set out by FIFA is not a quick task.
Stadiums selected for the World Cup could range from 40,000 seats for group and early-stage games of the tournament to an 80,000-seat minimum for the opening and final matches. The semifinal venue must have a capacity of 60,000, according to the 2026 bidding guide.
MetLife Stadium, which hosted the Copa America final in 2016, has a capacity of more than 82,000. The venue has never been the site of a World Cup game. Matches played in East Rutherford at previous World Cups were held at the venue's predecessor, Giants Stadium.
Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse. Email: email@example.com
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: FIFA World Cup 2026: MetLife Stadium in NJ may secure final