Jan 29, 2024 - News

Seattle counts down to the World Cup

Illustration of an orca tail punting a soccer ball.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Seattle is getting ready to host some of the FIFA World Cup, the biggest event in the city's history since the World's Fair in 1962.

Why it matters: The World Cup, by far the most widely viewed and followed single sporting event on Earth, is expected to bring Seattle 400,000 to 750,000 visitors and millions in tourist dollars, per the city.

  • For comparison, Taylor Swift's two performances in Seattle drew about 144,000.

What they're saying: "It's an opportunity to showcase Seattle as a unique and world-class city on a global stage," Deputy Mayor Greg Wong told Axios. "And we want to do it right."

The big picture: Seattle is among 16 cities across three countries that have been selected to host matches during the massive 2026 FIFA World Cup that's expected to draw 4 billion viewers overall.

What's happened: Late last year, the local organizing committee held a summit with 150 federal, state and local law enforcement and transportation experts and officials. They identified challenges and developed a strategy for creating a safe and accessible mega-event, April Putney, a spokesperson for SeattleFWC26, told Axios.

  • Watch parties across nine locations in the state and free activities on Seattle's waterfront are also planned, per Wong and the organization.
  • The organizing committee secured a partnership with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, marking the first time an Indigenous people will be part of hosting the international event.

What's happening: Among the ongoing projects, the committee is creating an app that will have information on where fans can go, small businesses to visit and special gems to check out in various neighborhoods.

What's next: State-of-the-art hybrid grass required by FIFA is being grown and tested in Moses Lake as the committee works to get Lumen Field ready, said Putney. Other upcoming work includes:

  • Recruiting and training workers in transportation, security and hospitality.
  • Partnering with at least 10 communities to host official fan activities across the state.
  • "This is an opportunity to showcase the vibrancy of our city and state and we are excited for game time," SeattleFWC26 CEO Peter Tomozawa told Axios.

Of note: There will be a call for volunteers at some point in the process, Wong said.


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