SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City has made the first cut to be a host location for the World Cup.
The United States, Canada and Mexico have teamed up to make a bid for the 2026 World Cup. Out of the 32 locations currently being considered, 20 to 25 of them will make the final cut to be a host city.
If Salt Lake City were selected, the local games would be played at Rice-Eccles Stadium. However, the Utah Sports Commission says that’s not very likely without some major changes. Mainly, they’d have to add thousands of seats.
“I think you probably need to be in the mid 60s to low 70 [thousands],” said Utah Sports Commission spokesperson Jeff Robbins of the seating capacity. “You have a lot of major football, and baseball arenas that hold even more than that that are being considered.”
Right now, Rice-Eccles Stadium’s capacity sits around 46,000. Robbins said that is the smallest venue still under consideration to be a host location. The next smallest stadium is in Chicago and seats over 15,000 more.
“There are a lot of ways you can get around that,” Robbins said.
Robbins said a combination of permanent and temporary seats could be a good fit. Temporary seats can be taken down and put back up depending on the event that’s taking place. That would be a good long-term option in case the University of Utah football games aren’t able to sell all those seats.
Additionally, it would be a plausible option because of cost.
“You got to be able to pay for it,” said John Nixon, Vice President for Administrative Services at the University of Utah. “We need to make sure it’s a sustainable model going forward.”
Nixon and Robbins said they haven’t connected yet on planning, but if it’s going to happen, Robbins said the Utah Sports Commission will have to submit their ideas in the next three months to be considered for the final cut in March.