Houston will host the U.S. men's national soccer team in a friendly match against Chile in March, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Thursday.
The game will be held at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 26, 2019. It's the first time since 2012 the U.S. men's national team returns to Houston.
The Mayor made the announcement during a press conference with the Harris County Sports Authority Thursday morning.
During the press conference, Mayor Turner also introduced the new United Bid Committee chairman, billionaire John Arnold.
Arnold will lead the committee working to get Houston chosen as one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup.
“Bringing the world’s most popular sporting event to our nation’s most diverse city is a challenge I look forward to leading. Soccer has been a lifelong passion of mine and it’s a distinct honor to represent my hometown in making this a reality.” he said.
Arnold said the process will be a competitive one as 17 cities are vying for ten spots.
The 17 U.S. cities will join three cities in Canada and three in Mexico for a chance to host the games.
Arnold said no city is more prepared to host the games than Houston.
NRG Stadium is the venue Houston has put up to host the games. The football stadium has a capacity of 72,200, slightly shy of the 80,000 required to host the opener or final, but it could still host one of the dozens of other games.
The Houston Dynamo President said having the World Cup in Houston could be one of the biggest things that's ever happened to the city.
"We've got a lot of work to do, but lets keep our fingers crossed it goes our way," said Chris Canetti.
The World Cup's return to North America will be the first time the games have been played on North American soil since 1994.
Hosting the games could generate more than $5 billion in short-term economic activity across North America, with an overall net benefit of $3 billion to $4 billion, according to a study conducted by management consultant the Boston Consulting Group.
Incremental economic activity could total between $160 million and $620 million in each individual host city, creating a net benefit of approximately $90 million to $480 million per city after accounting for potential public costs.
Here are the potential 2026 World Cup host cities:
New York/New Jersey
San Francisco Bay Area