Sports’ biggest show is coming to the world’s biggest stage.
But how did it get here?
How did MetLife Stadium pull off a coup in landing the 2026 World Cup Final, the most-watched event on the planet?
“There’s no better place to host the world’s biggest game than the world’s biggest stage,” New York Mayor Eric Adams said.
After the city and the state threw their hat in the ring, they did something rare: They put political wrangling aside and worked together. And the NYNJ World Cup Host Committee rode that cooperation to victory.
“It was no doubt a long process, but FIFA wanted to, and ultimately did, get the Finals decision right by considering it from all vantage points,” Host Committee Co-host city manager Lauren LaRusso told The Post.
“We never took it for granted that others were aware of just how incredible our region is, so we told our story relentlessly and were respectful of FIFA’s process throughout. We also modeled how seamlessly we expect our working relationship with FIFA to function going forward by bringing together good partners on both sides of the river and working collaboratively in lockstep every step of the way.”
While that relationship started the moment MetLife was picked as host city, the real groundwork began in earnest this summer.
Unlike the United bid back in 2018 that brought the World Cup to the U.S., Mexico and Canada, there was no bid book. This was done largely verbally and personally, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his team.
“I was pleasantly surprised. I felt like we only had a 50-50 chance of winning the final,” Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce president James Kirkos told The Post. “What we did well was present a body language that was unified — so the mayor’s office in the city and the governor’s office in Jersey, which many times in the past when there had to be collaborations there’d be tensions between the politics of New York and New Jersey. There was no tension.
“The fact we’re the most welcoming and diverse region … was also important to FIFA, because they have a big diversity inclusion element to their philosophy, and we fit that well. Then the fact we’ve hosted big so many times, we’ve got the experience of the complexity of security, of transportation. … So we wind up checking off a few more boxes than Dallas.”
Including getting hands-on help from Adams and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
“As an advocate for this region, and a lifelong soccer fan, I am thrilled that FIFA chose to place their trust in New York, New Jersey,” Murphy said.
“Gov. Murphy was great; he and his team were all-in. If the host committee needed the governor to attend a dinner because [Infantino] was going to be at the thing, the governor changed his schedule and was at the dinner,” Kirkos told The Post. “And Mayor Adams’ office did similar. So that unity of coming together as a state and a city to win this was one of the things that overpowered Dallas.”
It took more to overpower Dallas, and Los Angeles before that.
It took entertainment, accommodations, convenient time zones, diversity and a massive law enforcement apparatus, something sources told The Post impressed FIFA.
And of course money matters.
The Eastern time zone let FIFA slot kickoffs in better windows in key markets, five hours behind the UK and six behind Europe. With L.A. nine behind, picking New York meant more broadcast revenue.
And while SoFi Stadium is newer, it’s also narrower and requires widening to fit FIFA’s standards. It’s doable but requires removing seats from the lower bowl. FIFA demands at least 80,000 capacity, while SoFi held just 70,000 at the Super Bowl.
An even bigger deal was FIFA’s disagreement over revenue splits with SoFi Stadium owner Stan Kroenke. FIFA takes ticket and sponsorship revenue, leaving local organizers covering security and other costs. After Kroenke demanded the big games and threatened to pull SoFi if he didn’t get them, talks ended about an L.A. final.
And while even local organizers admit the allure of AT&T Stadium — AC, a retractable roof, futuristic facilities and 100,000 seats — they had an ace in the hole: New York.
“NYNJ was proud to put our values at the core of our bid to host the Final,” Host Committee Co-host city manager Bruce Revman told The Post. “When values like diversity, individuality, unity of purpose are taken into consideration, we felt the choice to have the final match here was an obvious one. We are glad FIFA agreed.
“One of FIFA’s most important goals for this World Cup is to grow the game of soccer. Where else could be better to center that effort than the most diverse region and the media capital of the world?”
Sure, Jerry’s World has the world’s biggest TV screen, but New York got its biggest TV event.
Dallas is 20 miles from AT&T Stadium with little public transport. Meanwhile, New York pitched Broadway, diversity, fan events in Central Park and big-event expertise.
“It wasn’t just the stadium, because let’s face it AT&T Stadium is a spectacular facility. It’s newer than MetLife Stadium, so stadium-to-stadium they may have had an edge,” Kirkos told The Post. “But you put all those things together that were important to FIFA — the level of accommodations, the proximity … and on the scorecard we came out a bunch of points ahead.”