In huge win for state, FIFA selects MetLife to host 2026 World Cup final

In addition to branding identity, N.J. will have once-in-a-lifetime business meet-and-great networking event with global executives

Let’s be clear, being selected Sunday to host the 2026 World Cup final to be played July 19 will have a huge impact on the New Jersey economy during the lead-up to the world’s most watched event — and during the expected four- to six-week tournament itself.

MetLife Stadium will host eight games. There will be watch parties and celebrations held in numerous cities, and the state will certainly be picked to play host to at least one of the teams in the tournament.

But, oh, how the selection will help the state for a generation ahead.

For starters, the event will bring international branding and exposure unlike any other gathering (far exceeding even that of the Olympics). For weeks, the New Jersey/New York skyline will be seen around the globe.

International business leaders who attend any of the event — even just the final — will get a first-person look at the region. And you can be sure that state and Choose New Jersey officials will be providing tours of the area and hosting informal meet-and-greets with them and members of the New Jersey business community.

The event will be a global networking business event like the area has never seen.

Gov. Phil Murphy obviously was thrilled.

“As a lifelong soccer fan, I am thrilled to announce that the FIFA World Cup 2026 final will be hosted by New Jersey and New York City! See you in 2026!” he tweeted out after the announcement.

Getting the game also speaks to the selling points the governor so often has touted to business — as he has repeatedly said, the region’s great diversity and welcoming progressive policies matter.

Landing the final also figures to make other huge sporting events — the Super Bowl, the NCAA Football Championship or Final Four — take a deeper look into what the area offers.

The region’s bid — a joint effort between New Jersey and New York City — made a strong case for the area, including:

  • Culture: A region so diverse that any country playing in the event (and its fans) would find a familiar cultural community;
  • Ease of access: Numerous nonstop plane trips from Europe, where the greatest number of teams will be from;
  • Weather: Far better weather — it doesn’t hit 100 degrees here daily as it does in Dallas during the summer;
  • Arts and entertainment: There’s the world-famous NYC culture scene — not to mention a great shopping/entertainment center in American Dream, a location that would be hard for anyone coming for games to miss;
  • Human rights: The progressive policies toward women and underserved communities in the region — supposedly a top concern of FIFA — are not found in Texas.

And then, there’s this: The nation’s 250th birthday will occur during the event — a celebration that surely will feature the Statue of Liberty.

In the weeks and months ahead, New Jersey officials will begin implementing plans to help the state get the most out of the World Cup: now — and in the future.