Early this morning, FIFA selected the North American Bid, which includes Canada, Mexico, and the United States, as the hosts of the 2026 World Cup over a bid from Morocco. The North American World Cup event is now being called United 2026. This news could potentially bring soccer matches in the world’s most popular sporting event to M&T Bank Stadium, the 71,008-capacity home of the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore has made United 2026’s list of 23 potential cities. This list was recently trimmed down from 32 cities. There will be 16 cities selected to host the World Cup and likely 10 or 11 will be in the United States, according to analysts. Baltimore will face competition from Mid-Atlantic neighbors Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York/New Jersey, which are all still in the running. ESPN is already predicting Washington and New York, rather than Baltimore, will get selected. FIFA will make the final selections in the coming years.
Ongoing renovations to M&T Bank Stadium will certainly strengthen Baltimore’s bid. The Ravens and Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) are in Phase 2 of a $144-million investment in M&T Bank Stadium.
Phase 1, which was completed in the 2017 offseason, included two new 200 ft.-wide and 36 ft.-high 4K ultra-high definition video boards in the end zones, replacing the existing boards, and installing the stadium’s second LED ribbon display above the club level.
Phase 2 is under construction. Improvements that will be ready for the 2018 Ravens season will include a new sound system in the seating bowl and two new, two-level suites in the “corner notches” between the upper decks on the west side of the stadium. The new suites are under construction in the corner notches on the east side of the stadium but are not expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2018 season. Large 4K ultra-high definition video boards, measuring approximately 33 ft. wide and 44 ft. high, will also be installed atop each of the four suites, providing fans with additional in-game content, NFL highlights/scores, statistics, and fantasy information. The four new video boards will be ready for the 2018 season.
Improvements will also include upgrades to the club level’s concession stands, bathrooms, and bar/lounge areas; upgrades to the stadium’s kitchen facilities, which include building an additional kitchen; and a new sound system.
New escalators to the upper deck are currently under construction. The first set of escalators on the southeast side of stadium will be available mid-season 2018 and the second set on the northwest side of stadium will be ready for the start of 2019 season.
Stadium Journey recently named M&T Bank Stadium the top NFL stadium experience.
A lot of improvements are currently in the works around M&T Bank Stadium as well. The $275-million Stadium Square mixed-use project on three blocks has been under construction for several years; The Parker Building is nearing completion for a conversion to a 50,000 sq. ft. office building; and 175 West Ostend St. is currently undergoing renovations with new tenants to include Checkerspot Brewing Company. A new Hammerjacks music venue recently began construction and Topgolf has been announced for the current site of BARCS and Parking Lot J.
CBAC, the owners of Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, recently spent $12,259,500 on three large buildings along Warner St. and adjacent to M&T Bank Stadium. CBAC is partners on the Topgolf proposal and is calling Warner St. Baltimore’s “next great entertainment district.” Expansive plans for this redevelopment are expected to be revealed at the end of the summer.
Below is a list of the cities still in contention for North America’s 2026 World Cup bid:
Image courtesy of United 2026
- Mexico City
- Kansas City
- Los Angeles
- New York/New Jersey
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Washington, D.C.
Corner notch suite construction
Soccer matches held at M&T Bank Stadium
Renderings courtesy of the Ravens and Maryland Stadium Authority
About the Author: Kevin Lynch
Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O’s fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and “bar food” foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.