Soccer hopefuls had their dreams crushed last week as they watched Nashville fall a day late and a stadium short of making history.
FIFA announced Thursday that Nashville lost its bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
Nashville won’t host 2026 World Cup
The World Cup takes place once every four years and is known as the second-largest worldwide sporting event — behind only the Olympics. Thus, being selected as a host city for this 80-game competition comes as a coveted honor.
Nashville’s growing reputation as an event destination made supporters hopeful the city would soon add another notch to its belt. But now that FIFA’s host city list is out, the 2026 World Cup is only a pipe dream.
The good news is, Tennesse sportsbooks will offer betting markets on all of this year’s World Cup action. So Tennessee sports bettors can still find plenty of ways to join in on the excitement.
Potential reasons for Nashville’s exclusion
Nashville wasn’t given a specific reason as to why Tennessee’s capitol was omitted. However, some believe it has to do with the current uncertainty surrounding the city’s largest venue, Nissan Stadium.
Along with serving as the home field of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the stadium hosts countless other pro sporting events each year. In fact, Nissan Stadium even hosted a World Cup qualifier match this past Sept. 2021 featuring the US Men’s National Team and Canada.
This locale will soon be a thing of the past, though, as the Titans plan on erecting a new $2.2 billion stadium on the city’s East Bank by 2026. The timing of this project’s estimated completion, however, falls exceptionally close to the 2026 World Cup.
Nashville’s size in general could be another potential reason for its exclusion. The city happened to be the smallest market to apply among the 22 ultimate finalists.
Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation CEO Butch Spyridon said Thursday after the selection.
“I’m not willing to blame the stadium. I would admit it raised questions and I feel like we more than answered and gave them the insurances that they needed.”
Being selected as a World Cup host city could have further enhanced Nashville’s reputation as an entertainment town. It would’ve also made the city a stronger potential option for future events like the Super Bowl or Final Four.
Nashville soccer stadium GEODIS Park not an option
Although it may be the largest sporting arena in Nashville, Nissan Stadium is far from the only one. In fact, its newest stadium, GEODIS Park, further solidifies Nashville’s reputation as a soccer town.
GEODIS Park debuted this past May as the home of MLS team Nashville SC. The venue’s size makes it the largest soccer-specific stadium in all of North America. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t make it large enough to host a World Cup event.
Whereas GEODIS Park has a capacity of only 30,000 attendees, Nissan Stadium can hold more than twice that — over 69,000.
The 2018 World Cup averaged over 47,000 cheering soccer fanatics per event. In 2014, the average was nearly 54,000 per match — far more than Nashville’s premier soccer destination or a non-existent replacement stadium is capable of hosting.
2026 World Cup host cities
Unlike previous years, this will be the first World Cup to feature 48 teams rather than 32. It will also mark the first year the tournament takes place in three countries — all three of which are located right here in North America:
- United States
A total of 16 host cities were selected from the 22 applicants — 11 of those are located in the US:
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- New York City/New Jersey
- San Francisco
The three selected locations in Mexico include:
- Mexico City
Canada’s matches will be held in Vancouver and Toronto.
Mexico and Canada will host 10 matches each, while the US will host the tournament’s other 60 matches — including the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Tennessee sports betting apps give Team USA a low likelihood of winning the 2026 World Cup, though oddsmakers think they’ve got a decent shot of at least advancing past Group B.
Odds for the overall 2026 World Cup winner are as follows: