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Miami expected to make money — and spend some — when it hosts 2026 World Cup games

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 6/17/2022 Joey Flechas, Miami Herald
Soccer fans along with local elected officials react to Miami being selected as one of the cities for the FIFA 2026 World Cup venue during a watch party at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus in Coral Gables, Florida, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. © Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/TNS Soccer fans along with local elected officials react to Miami being selected as one of the cities for the FIFA 2026 World Cup venue during a watch party at Fritz & Franz Bierhaus in Coral Gables, Florida, on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

Miami expects to see an economic windfall from hosting the 2026 World Cup games, including thousands of jobs, tons of tourists and attention on the world stage, local political and business leaders said on Thursday after FIFA announced which cities were chosen.

With a worldwide audience, the major soccer sporting event is expected to be a big boost for South Florida’s tourism economy. Local leaders anticipate a positive economic impact tied to visitors at hotels, restaurants and a range of other businesses. Estimating the potential financial impact is difficult to calculate so far ahead of time. The teams that end up playing in Miami-Dade could also make a difference.

Tourism officials point to a less immediate benefit: The amount of exposure Miami-Dade would receive as soccer fans across the world tune into games.

“Hosting a global event, and many would argue that this is truly a global event for the most global sport, means having the eyes of the world,” said Rolando Aedo, chief operating officer of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

READ MORE: The 2026 World Cup is coming to Miami!

The FIFA announcement set off a burst of applause and cheers at Fritz and Franz Bierhaus in Coral Gables, a popular soccer bar where officials had set up a watch party.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who waved an American flag when the crowd erupted, told the Miami Herald, that county and city governments worked with the visitors bureau and the Dolphins ownership, which owns Hard Rock Stadium, to put together a strong bid package for FIFA’s decision makers.

“All these kinds of national and global sports, we feel, has not only a direct economic impact on hotels and the everyday person who’s working in our city, but also has a branding impact that is incalculable,” he said. “We don’t know what it’s going to mean 10, 15, 20 years from now. People are going to experience Miami, they’re going to see images of Miami, and the tail of that economic development is incalculable.”

When the United States, Mexico and Canada were awarded the 2026 World Cup in 2018, a Boston Consulting Group study commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation estimated each city could see a net benefit of approximately $90 million to $480 million — figures that factor in public costs associated with hosting duties.

There’s a price tag to hosting World Cup games and other large sporting events. In order to win bids for such major events, local governments have to commit to spending taxpayer dollars to support the events and everything that comes with them.

Miami-Dade residents can look to a recent example, the 2020 Super Bowl that was played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, to get an idea for what major events cost. That year, local governments had to subsidize the cost of at least $20 million worth of municipal services, including overtime for police and fire rescue workers, fee waivers and money for parks improvements. Municipal governments also made cash contributions to the work of the host committee.

In the case of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body that produces billions of dollars in revenue, the organization expects to receive at least some tax breaks and subsidized security costs, according to a FIFA overview of government guarantees required to bid for World Cup hosting duties.

Florida’s statewide economic development agency, Enterprise Florida, already kicked in $10 million in December to back bids by Miami and Orlando to become host cities. Half of that went to the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau to pay for logistical costs associated with being World Cup venues, from security to transportation.

Boosters say the expenses are worth it because of the spending by visitors who attend these events. Hard Rock Stadium is primed to host major soccer matches, which would bring lots of people to the suburban city of Miami Gardens in northwest Miami-Dade. The city recently hosted another international sports event when the Miami Grand Prix brought Formula 1 racing to the area surrounding Hard Rock Stadium.

“We know that there’s going to be thousands of jobs, there will be incredible investment in our infrastructure as well as the game itself,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Satellite events could move people to other parts of the county, including to the future home of South Florida’s Major League Soccer franchise, Inter Miami. The team, co-owned by retired footballer David Beckham, was just awarded a long-term lease from the city of Miami, putting owners one major step closer toward the construction of a $1 billion stadium and commercial complex in the heart of the county, right next to Miami International Airport.

Jorge Mas, Inter Miami’s managing owner, wore his soccer team’s scarf when he arrived at Fritz and Franz after the announcement. He told the Herald that he wants the planned complex, which he hopes will be complete by May 2025, to be the site of other World Cup events leading up to and during the tournament.

“I think the infrastructure we’ve developed for soccer in South Florida took our bid way over the top,” he said.

Aedo said the visibility that World Cup games will bring to the Miami area will bolster the region’s global appeal.

“The residual effect from now up until 2026’s tournament is going to be immense, and frankly, immeasurable from a brand perspective,” Aedo told the Miami Herald. “It is further validation of Miami’s stature as a global city.”

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