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CenturyLink Field could host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

MLS: Western Conference Championship-Houston Dynamo at Seattle Sounders Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

CenturyLink Field is known first and foremost as home of the Seattle Seahawks, who are tied for the fifth-best regular season home record in the NFL since the stadium opened in 2002. Seattle Sounders FC have had the best attendance for Major League Soccer home matches since they joined the league in 2009, although Atlanta United SC topped Seattle’s season average in 2017.

With the 2026 FIFA World Cup awarded to the United States, Canada, and Mexico — with 60 of the 80 games held in the US — decisions have to be made on which cities get to be a part of The Beautiful Game’s biggest ever tournament. On the shortlist for the United States is CenturyLink Field, one of only three West Coast stadiums even included. The other two are Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, and the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, which hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final. MetLife Stadium in New Jersey appears to be the frontrunner to land the 2026 final.

In total, seventeen US cities are in contention, but that final list has to be cut down to ten. Seattle is hoping that they’ll be part of the footballing festival, and Sounders owner Adrien Hanauer made the case for CenturyLink (and the city of Seattle) as an ideal venue for the World Cup.

“The infrastructure is effectively here,” Hanauer said (via MLS Soccer). “There are no stadiums that are going to be built. There are no new airports that are going to be built. There are no new transportation systems that are going to be built. So, the cost structure should be lower which should ultimately end up in a very profitable World Cup.”

“CenturyLink Field was intentionally designed and constructed for World Cup soccer. We determined that from the beginning,” Washington State Public Stadium Authority Board Chair Fred Mendoza said. “We took the designs to a World Cup architect. The building that you have today is a world-class World Cup facility. When we overlay it with natural [grass] there aren’t any better soccer facilities in this country.”

The international soccer tournaments CenturyLink have seen are the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with matches played there in 2005, 2009, and 2013, as well as the Copa America Centenario in 2016. They did get a US Men’s National Team qualifier for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, when the Americans bested Panama 2-0 in 2013.

Seattle has shown itself to be one of the best cities in North America for soccer, and the stadium design plays a major part in creating such a vibrant atmosphere for both football and soccer. It’d be really cool if the World Cup came to the Pacific Northwest... and also for the San Francisco 49ers stadium to be eliminated from hosting.