HOUSTON — People here in Houston know why the city is the perfect spot to host a World Cup.
Convincing FIFA, however, now that’s been the challenge.
“They had a pretty good poker face when we made our presentation I’ll be honest,” said Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee President Chris Canetti.
Canetti and his group have had very productive meetings with FIFA over the past year. The takeaway? Houston stacks up pretty well when compared to other cities vying for a host spot especially when it comes to accessibility to the area, the facilities that will likely be used for the teams and events and the geographic location.
“I’m not losing sleep right now because we’re weak over here or weak over there, we’re strong across the board," said Canetti. “We’ve done the best we could to show why this city deserves this chance.”
Another positive for Houston? Well, it has to do with the state it resides. Texas offers something called the Major Events Reimbursement Program which assists communities in paying costs related to preparing for or conducting large events that generate substantial revenue for the area or state.
Canetti believes that helps their cause because the program can give FIFA confidence that the city and state will be able to handle the financial costs of such a large-scale event.
The economic impact of the World Cup in Houston would be massive. Just for perspective, Canetti said the 2017 Super Bowl generated around $347 million in revenue for the region. A World Cup host site? That could bring upwards of $1 billion.
“You know, we’ve hosted more major sporting events in this city than any of our competition since 2004,” Canetti said. “We’ve got credibility as well because a lot of these events that have come through here have left being deemed some of the most successful of all time.”
Canetti and the city are hoping FIFA’s poker face… is hiding a full house.