World Cup 2026 coming to Houston? City officials weigh in on economic benefits

The FIFA World Cup is officially coming to North America in 2026. Houston is one of 23 cities bidding to host some World Cup games. Only 16 cities from across Canada, Mexico and the US will be chosen for the 48-team tournament.

City officials said if Houston is selected as a host city, the local economy could receive more than a billion dollars in revenue. 

From hotel and venue capacity, state of the art stadiums and previous experience hosting large-scale events like the Super Bowl in 2017, Houston has everything it takes to become one of 16 host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

City Controller Chris Brown said the Super Bowl brought in roughly $400 million to the local economy and the World Cup could be that-- times five! 

"We did the math and each individual game is equivalent to the Super Bowl. We'd have five potential games if we're selected. I mean we could be talking about a billion dollars of potential revenue to the region in the future," Brown said.

Brown said that revenue could then trickle down to local businesses like Pitch 25, a new sports bar that opened last week next to the BBVA Compass Stadium. 

Former Houston Dynamo player Brian Ching is one of the owners of Pitch 25. He said Houston's diverse fan base could draw massive crowds to local watch parties-- even if the US doesn't make the World Cup again in 2026.

"I think it would be huge for our business. We're new but I think we will become the number one sports bar in Houston because we have a lot to offer. We appeal to more than just a soccer crowd," Ching said. "Even without the US being in the World Cup this year, it's still a massive event and we're still going to get tons of people out here."

FIFA likely won't make the final announcement until December 2020, so right now, the estimations are all wishful thinking. But for a city still fighting to recover after suffering more than $80 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey, hosting the World Cup could make all the difference. 

"We are coming back strongly from that unfortunate event but this could be another feather in our cap, in the standpoint of additional revenue and help bolster the area," Brown said.

The 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia. Games can be watched live on FOX 26.