By Joe Danneman | July 7, 2020 at 5:22 PM EDT – Updated July 7 at 7:45 PM
CINCINNATI (FOX19) – Cincinnati took the next step Tuesday toward winning a bid to host World Cup games in 2026.
With FC Cincinnati team president Jeff Berding leading the city’s bid, Cincinnati is one of 17 American cities vying for 10 host city spots when the world’s biggest sporting event comes to North America.
“It literally is the largest sporting event in the world, and it’s an honor for Cincinnati to be included as one of the finalists,” Berding said.
Berding participated in a three-hour video conference call with FIFA and U.S. Soccer on Tuesday as the next step in the process of choosing which North American cities will host the games in six years.
The call focused on stadiums, team facilities, hotels, transportation and marketing expectations for every finalist city.
FC Cincinnati’s new stadium is not part of the city’s pitch. Rather, games would be played at Paul Brown Stadium to meet the World Cup’s requirement of at least 40,000 seats for games.
The stadium would need temporary natural grass to accommodate the World Cup’s specifications.
Berding believes Cincinnati’s recent success hosting Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in 2015 and FCC’s meteoric rise to Major League Soccer are proof the Queen City is capable of successfully hosting a world sporting event.
“What we’ve accomplished as a community here in Cincinnati is unbelievable, and this is a great opportunity,” Berding added.
The next phase of the process will be FIFA and U.S. Soccer meeting virtually with each host city finalist before setting an in-person site survey.
Berding expects the individual video conference calls with FIFA to take place before the end of August.
If Cincinnati is not chosen as a host city, Berding believes FC Cincinnati’s training facility in Milford could be used by a World Cup competing country as a “home base” in North America.
The other American finalist cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington D.C.