As of June 16th, 2022, we know the stadiums that will welcome the world for the 2026 FIFA World Cup held across North America. Staged across three countries, four time zones, and two oceans, this World Cup is spread across all of the North American continent, and as such, there is a vast variety of stadiums that will be home to 48 teams come the summer of 2026. Sixteen cities, sixteen stadiums, and in their current 2022 forms, here are these stadiums ranked as venues for the greatest spectacle in sport.
16. BMO Field – Toronto, Ontario
This feels harsh, but it’s based on the BMO Field we have now, and not the BMO Field of 2026. Right now, the 30,000 is the smallest stadium by far stated to host World Cup games, but in a few years’ time when the stadium is expanded to 45,000, it may justify a higher place, but at the moment, BMO has the misfortune of placing in sixteenth.
15. Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, Missouri
Home of the Guinness World Record for the ‘loudest stadium in the World’, Arrowhead is a seventies stadium with a design and look that harkens back to its time. While there is nothing inherently wrong with Arrowhead, it has an outdated big bowl design and in a tournament filled with modern and iconic designs, Arrowhead is left as the fifteenth best stadium in the 2026 World Cup.
14. Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, California
Despite being one of the newer stadiums, Levi’s Stadium has had plenty of issues since opening in 2014. Home of the San Francisco 49ers, the stadium is 43 miles away from the city it serves and is located very close by to San Jose airport, making it no stranger to the noise pollution and building restrictions that comes with being so close to an airport. Perhaps the worst part is that its open design means that it is completely exposed to the hot California sun, with very little shading for fans for World Cup games played during the daylight hours.
13. Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Massachusetts
Opened in 2002, the stadium has been no stranger to success in that time with its main tenant the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl six times. The stadium itself was built during an era when many stadiums in the NFL had a similar design such as the Tennessee Titans stadium and Baltimore Ravens stadium, giving it a copy n paste design and the main city it serves, Boston, is 30 miles away and an over an hour away in public transport. It does, however, have a rather unique lighthouse and bridge by its entranceway, which pays a fitting tribute to the maritime culture of the area.
12. NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
The first NFL stadium to have a retractable roof, NRG Field from the outside looks more like an oversized arena, and while it looks impressive and unique from the outside, its interior doesn’t stand out as anything special from many other large NFL stadiums. Today, over twenty years since the stadium was built, the roof looks a bit dated, but overall the 72,000-capacity stadium is pretty impressive.
11. Metlife Stadium – East Rutherford, New Jersey
At 82,000, Metlife Stadium is one the largest stadiums for the 2026 World Cup and is only five miles outside New York City. The stadium is impressive in size and scale, but with its use of grey/neutral colour throughout, the interior comes off somewhat uninspiring, and its design is very smoothed out and even throughout, leading to a lack of unique charm. Despite this, due to its size and ample location, we can expect to see a lot of Metlife during the summer of 2026.
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10. Hard Rock Stadium – Miami, Florida
Unrecognizable from a decade ago, the stadium has gone through huge renovation to go from a generic-looking multi-purpose stadium to a smart and unique NFL stadium with a beautiful turquoise design, and a unique-looking roof design and overhangs over the stadium. It’s a great example of how to transform a stadium, despite it being over forty years old by the time the World Cup comes around.
9. BC Place – Vancouver, British Columbia
The higher of the two Canadian stadiums, the home of the opening/closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter games and host venue for the 2015 Women’s FIFA World Cup might have the best Stadium location on the list, being right on the Pacific Ocean in downtown Vancouver. The stadium’s roof was renovated after the 2010 Olympics and the cable-operated retractable roof gives the arena looking Stadium a unique design for its exterior. The interior, meanwhile, is made of two tiers and uses a colourful red, orange and grey seat colour design to help give the stadium on Canada’s Pacific coast more character.
8. Estadio Akron – Zapopan, Jalisco
The first of the three Mexican cities on this list is well worth the wait here. Despite only having a capacity of 48,000 and a standard interior seating design, the stadium opened in 2010 and makes up for it with an absolutely beautiful exterior. The stadium was designed to look like a volcano, with the stadium walls being covered in a fully green grass design, making it look like the roof is coming out of the ground and having the roof almost look like it’s floating. It is arguably the most unique and identifiable stadium on the entire list of 2026 host sites.
7. Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Opened in 2003, the 69,879 capacity stadium is one of the very few stadiums on this list that incorporates its tenant’s logo into its seating design, with the Philadelphia Eagles logo featured to help give the stadium character. Its design as well isn’t regimented, with its stands at either end distinctly different looking from each other while both providing fans with ample seating room. Combined with an impressive exterior and close proximity to other Philadelphia sports venues and the city itself, ‘The Linc” is a great place to take in some World Cup 2026 action.
6. Lumen Field – Seattle, Washington
Similar to Lincoln Financial in that its two-end stands are unique, Lumen also features two imposing stands along its sideline that help to generate the stadium’s famously loud and intimidating atmosphere. Its colour scheme fits well with the Pacific North West region that it represents, and this year it had the honour of being the site for the Seattle Sounders’s CONCACAF Champions League final second-leg. The local MLS side triumphed in the CONCACAF Champions League, the first time an MLS side was crowned CONCACAF champions in the post-2008 rebrand era.
5. Estadio BBVA – Guadalupe, Nuevo León
The second Mexican stadium scores highly because of how well it takes advantage of its geographical location. The stadium was slanted which meant that fans could see the nearby mountain range in the distance, coupled with a design that allows the stadium to ventilate and cool during the hit Mexican summer, and you have one of the smartest built stadiums in all the world, not just Mexico.
4. AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas
At this point, any of the remaining stadiums could arguably be number one and I wouldn’t blame you if you thought this should be number one. The home of the Dallas Cowboys is as impressive a shrine as you’d imagine the most valuable sports franchise in the world to have. The 80,000-seater stadium (expandable to 105,000) is simply massive in scale with a huge roof, windowed exterior, massive scoreboard, and a seemingly never-ending number of tiered seating. Its biggest black mark is that its windows can cause vision problems for the players, as the sun is able to blast right through the exterior and onto the playing surface. Nevertheless, the stadium is absolutely beautiful!
3. SoFi Stadium – Los Angeles, California
The most expensive stadium ever built. The five billion-dollar stadium is also the newest on the list, having been built and completed in 2020, and has already hosted a Super Bowl in which the hometown LA Rams took home the NFL’s biggest prize. The exteriors are huge, as it includes not just the stadium, but a performance venue and plaza, all covered by a roof canopy and creating an almost horn-like shape from above. Inside, the stadium is very similar in look to AT&T stadium, but with the addition of a 360-degree 4K HDR scoreboard, the first of its kind.
2. Mercedes Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
Opened in 2017, the 71,000 capacity Stadium is not only a world-class NFL stadium, but it was also designed to be able to fully accommodate soccer. Mercedes Benz Stadium has retractable lower bowl seats to widen the field which allows a soccer pitch to fit much more naturally within the stadium and for fans, the news gets even better. Mercedes Benz is famous in the U.S for its cheap concessions, with beer as cheap as $5, almost unheard of in North American sports venues. The exterior is very futuristic looking with over-lapping metallic triangles and glass windows which provide natural lighting when the stadium’s roof is closed. Inside, the red and black seats, synonymous with Atlanta sports give the stadium an intimidating look, and even include a stand that’s designed to resemble the Atlanta Falcons logo. Of the new billion-dollar NFL stadiums in the U.S, this one here is my personal favourite.
1. Estadio Azteca – Tlalpan, Mexico City
In a list of best-ranked stadiums at a North American World Cup, you have to put one of soccer’s most iconic stadiums at the top of the list. South America has the Maracanã, Europe has Wembley, and North America has the utterly iconic, 87,523 capacity Azteca. Opened in 1966, the Azteca was the centrepiece for the 1970 and 1986 Mexico World Cups. It has seen many classic and immortal moments in the sport, including Maradona single-hand-idly beating England, Italy beating Germany 4-3 in the “game of the century,” and Brazil and Pele’s finest hour beating Italy 4-1 in the 1970 final, where they cemented themselves as one of the greatest aides in all of sports. The Azteca has a huge and intimidating design with its stands, effectively putting those in the top tier in the sky because of the stadium’s altitude of 2,200 m (7,200 feet) above sea level.
I’ll admit, this isn’t the most modern stadium or the most aesthetically pleasing stadium, but this is a soccer list. Estadio Azteca is a pillar of the sport and will be a stadium that all fans and all players would love to visit, with some even seeing it as a pilgrimage!
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