The news was already big enough: The Boston area will be one of the host sites for the men's 2026 World Cup. But Sunday's announcement from FIFA was more than a pleasant surprise for local organizers — Gillette Stadium, sans its corporate sponsorship for the international tournament, will be getting seven matches two summers from now.
"At the time of the bid, we were hoping for five or six matches, and a quarterfinal was unlikely," said Mike Loynd, president of Boston Soccer 26, at an event in downtown Boston Monday celebrating the announcement. "But here we are with five group stage matches, a round of 32 and a quarterfinal for a total of seven matches. Congratulations Boston, congratulations Massachusetts."
There's still two summers to go before matches kick off across the U.S., Mexico and Canada in what will be the largest Cup to date.
With dates in place, the city and region can now start to prepare for an event that officials hope will have a lasting and transformative impact for the game and city.
Matches for the tournament begin June 11, 2026 in Mexico City and Guadalajara. Games at Gillette Stadium, or "Boston Stadium" as it will be known for Cup games, kick off a couple days after on the 13th.
There will be limited time between games in the group stage and the round of 32, but that's not something that worries Brian Bilello, president of the New England Revolution and chair of the board of Boston Soccer 26.
"I've seen us do a Patriots game, Revolution game and concert within a week of each other at Gillette Stadium," he said. "So we have the ability to turn that venue over. It's a great staff. The organization down there is tremendous, they're super excited, obviously all of us down there, the Kraft family, are super excited to have the World Cup here in Massachusetts."
One thing he is stressing is creating community, and connecting everyone in the area to the matches in Foxborough, even if they're not able to attend in-person.
"So I think for us, the biggest challenge is how do we involve people that don't have tickets, aren't able to buy [a] ticket to come to a game?" he said. "It shouldn't be seven individual events, it really should be a six-week celebration for everyone who lives in Greater Boston. And so I think that's our greatest challenge. We know we'll deliver the tourism money and all that stuff, that's a no brainer, that's already done, really. But how do we deliver a great event for the people who are here? I think that's one thing that we've got to figure out."
Philly is getting a Fourth of July match (here's to hoping the U.S. and England meet there and then in what would be the biggest home field advantage this country's seen) and New York/New Jersey is getting the final.
But even if it's missing out on some of those big dates, Boston will be part of a strong hub of soccer in the northeast in the summer of '26, something Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of Meet Boston, is thrilled about.
"But if you think about the fact that people can come to Boston, stay in a hotel room, maybe for the whole month, and travel back and forth on Amtrak to New York City, to Philadelphia, New Jersey and catch games, that's gonna be huge for us," she said. "And let's not forget the fact that the final game is being played in New York/New Jersey, which is huge for us. People are gonna want to be here, they're gonna want to be part of the northeast action, so I think we haven't even scratched the surface on economic impact yet."