FIFA not actually demanding every 2026 World Cup host city have two extra stadiums on hand for watching on TV, phew

So several readers wondered if the line in the Las Vegas Review-Journal article cited in my previous post about FIFA demanding “two outdoor venues — each capable of seating 20,000 people to watch every tournament game on a big screen at no cost” really meant outdoor venues, as I assumed, or just public plazas for fan zones, as has been done for past World Cups. I reached out to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, whose COO Steve Hill was quoted (well, paraphrased) as saying the thing about 20,000-seat venues, and didn’t hear back immediately — their press people are still trying to track Hill down for clarification.

But the Review-Journal’s reporter Rick Velotta did get back to me, and wrote this:

I specifically asked Steve Hill about this because I asked, “What about just opening up T-Mobile and Thomas & Mack?” He said they had to be strictly outdoor venues (which makes little sense to me, considering the tournament is in June/July).

So I asked, “What about Sam Boyd Stadium and maybe the Las Vegas Motor Speedway?” He said FIFA is looking for a new place to set up so that a big screen could be set up at one end. So it’s more like what you suggested … public space where a big screen and seating could be built.

So you’d be talking about not only a lot of space but a place where people could also park their cars.

My apologies, then, for getting anyone in a panic about having to build tons of new outdoor stadiums (or at least rent tons of old ones), as it appears that all FIFA really wants is two big-ass fields and 20,000 folding chairs and big video boards and a few thousand parking spaces. For around 100 games over the course of several weeks. And security for all that, of course. For free. Really, I don’t see what Las Vegas (and Chicago and Minneapolis and Vancouver) was even griping about — that’s nothing more than you’d offer to any multi-billion-dollar company visiting for a few weeks, right?

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16 comments on “FIFA not actually demanding every 2026 World Cup host city have two extra stadiums on hand for watching on TV, phew

  1. I can understand your mistake. What was originally reported sounded way too much like an Onion article, which when it comes to stadium news typically means it’s true.

  2. Good to know that FIFA won’t be requiring open air stadia/bandshells/amphitheatres to be constructed adjacent to each WC stadium.

    However, the primary concern (as I understand it) was the cost associated with creating these outdoor areas and, as noted above, the security and other support systems for same.

    Depending on what FIFA’s specification for these fan zones is (I’m guessing it’s not going to be “just a section of parking lot we can use”), it could still cost significant amounts for each of the host cities.

    If each venue is in use for two weeks (on avg, some will be used only for the group play phase, others will be used right through to the knockout rounds), and each fan zone costs $400k-500k for mobilization, setup, servicing, tear down and removal – plus significant security costs – this could easily be another $40-60m in subsidy to FIFA… because they siphon off all the revenue from these sorts of ancillary events.

    The non-participants are looking smarter all the time…

  3. FIFA is a racketeering outfit, but their product is pretty fricking awesome. The World Cup in the USA is a no-brainer! We already have most of the infrastructure. I would gladly pay several million of my tax dollars for logistics security and construction of fan facilities in exchange for the several billion dollars worth of exposure on international television promoting my city as a world-class travel destination. Las Vegas screwed the pooch if they messed up on this one. That’s ok we here in Orlando are more than happy have images of Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter, and Shamu beamed into the living of rooms of families in the U.K., Germany, Brazil, France, Japan, China and other countries were Cup matches are watched with near-religious devotion.

      1. You can visit where they killed the Romanovs for being cruel and corrupt, only to replace them with an even more cruel and corrupt government, which eventually collapsed and spawned another cruel and corrupt government, that in turn bribed FIFA and got to host some games in the city.

        Time is a flat circle.

      2. I don’t know Neil, I’m pretty sure that’s where Bernie Sanders went on his honeymoon.

    1. I’m sure Las Vegas will do just fine without the World Cup. They’d be okay without the NFL, but that’s a moot point now.

      1. Yes, they will be fine… and still a distant second to Orlando as an international convention city. Las Vegas should have bid for World Cup! Unlike most cities on the list, Orlando and Vegas have a huge annual tourism advertising budgets. You could spend a billion dollars on Google AdWords and still not get even close to the return you get from hosting a World Cup.

        1. “You could spend a billion dollars on Google AdWords and still not get even close to the return you get from hosting a World Cup.”

          I would very much like to see the economic studies on that.

          1. He just told you! He lives there, and Orlando, oddly, is a tourist destination already, so it would be totally okay to spend tax dollars to make it…a tourist destination.

            It’s silly. People are still going to go to Las Vegas because it’s Las Vegas. Hosting a handful of World Cup games is not going to boost their tourism to the point where all the outlay is worth it. That’s simply not possible.

            That’s the kind of thing people say who are either naive about how this works or have something to gain personally by the public subsidies. (Or who think their communities’ problems have all been solved and tax dollars are just lying all about, ready to go to anyone who asks.)

          2. Or even more to the point: Las Vegas isn’t going to build a ton more hotel rooms just for the World Cup because that’d be crazy, and the ones they have are pretty full already.

  4. It seems an increasingly outdated concept as people are shifting to watching the games they do not attend or highlights online at their leisure, they might as well scale live auxiliary venue size back and just require a level of wifi or wired connections at hotels. Granted then it will probably be a question of if online subscriptions are bundled with tickets or get stuck to all hotels during the event.

    1. Fan zones continue to be very popular. There were hundreds of thousands of people at them in opening round games. There are also one of the few things that might be a good investment for a city as there should be limited capital costs presuming you already have a nice park or square somewhere.

      1. Fan zones are fine — I’m just still trying to figure out whether FIFA is moving the goalposts (what would be the soccer metaphor equivalent of this? setting an offside trap?) in terms of what’s being demanded for fan zones. I may have to delve into some city bid books in greater detail, if those even contain the kind of detail I’m looking for.

        1. Yes. In the current World Cup and previous it was just a fan zone in host cities. Now it sounds like they want two per city. The two sites per city makes less sense from a fan perspective (but hey more sponsorship revenue). One of the appealing aspects of the fan zones is the communal parts (some sites may have physical limits if you want to get max crowds but thinking creatively* about it could create best options).

          *I watched a part of a game in Frankfurt in 2006 and the “floating” screen in the Main while watching on the banks was really a great way to do it. (There are a few videos still on the Youtubes that show it).

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