How World Cup fans and (nonfans) figure to help South Jersey

Big economic benefit from 6 games in Philly

Part of the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. ­— Courtesy photo

The total number of fans headed to the six games of the 2026 FIFA World Cup being played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia doesn’t figure to be much different than the approximately 67,000 who fill the stadium on Sundays in the fall to see the Philadelphia Eagles play.

Their economic impact — both in the Philadelphia area and in South Jersey — figures to be a lot different.

Both areas figure to benefit greatly, according to Charlie Dougherty, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, who lives in the area.

The reasons are multiple, he said.

  • The fans will need to stay overnight: Fans are expected to come from greater distances — even around the globe. And, since the matches will take place in a shortened window (the five group stage matches run from June 14-June 27) and will feature repeat games from a number of countries (to reduce travel), fans will be more likely to get hotel rooms and keep them for a number of days and weeks.
  • The fans will be willing to spend more: Fans not only will be willing to buy ceremonial items connected to the event, studies show they also are more likely to pay more for everyday items from vendors, including food.
Charlie Dougherty.

And, while the games are in Philly, the economic impact of the event figures to reach South Jersey, too — for one simple reason.

“Philadelphia will not be able to quickly expand its tourism capacity — and why should it? This is a one-time event,” Dougherty said. “So, there naturally will be a spillover effect to Camden and the South Jersey area.”

Christina Renna, the CEO of the influential Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, said her members will be ready.

“South Philadelphia is, in many ways, an extension of South Jersey,” she said. “When behemoth events like the World Cup come to Philadelphia, the region always sees ancillary benefits in our lodging, restaurants and an uptick in South Jersey tourist attractions.

“We fully expect to benefit from having World Cup games so close.”

That benefit figures to extend well past Camden County.

With fans stationed in the area for long periods of time, it only makes sense that some will travel to Atlantic City, too.

And the efforts to help South Jersey benefit from games in Philadelphia figure to come from well beyond the region. The host committee for games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford has made it clear that it aims to market the event throughout the state.

And then, there’s this: Dougherty said the South Jersey region figures to get a boost from people who have no interest in the World Cup whatsoever.

“We call it the ‘crowding out’ effect,” he said. “If you don’t care about the World Cup, but are feeling overwhelmed by the event, you may decide this is a good time to get away from it all.

World Cup in Philly

Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia will host six games for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The schedule:

  • June 14 (Group stage)
  • June 19 (Group stage)
  • June 22 (Group stage)
  • June 25 (Group stage)
  • June 27 (Group stage)
  • July 4 (Round of 16)

“Some people may decide this could be a good time to go to South Jersey and experience some of the wineries or breweries or farms — or maybe go down the Shore. This all indirectly helps the region.”

Then, there’s the global exposure the area will get for having games there — especially on July Fourth, when Philadelphia will host a game in connection with the country’s 250th birthday.

“This is a great advertisement for the city of Philadelphia,” Dougherty said. “There will be all sorts of shots of the Philadelphia skyline and the South Philadelphia area. Having the world’s attention focused on this event certainly will boost the profile of the city, which can help pay economic dividends over the long term.”

Of course, predicting massive amounts of economic benefit from a sporting event has been fool’s gold for generations. Many countries that have hosted the Olympics or the World Cup have been left with bills (they are still paying) while still waiting for a long-term economic benefit that never came.

Dougherty thinks the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be different — for one key reason.

“There are no great expenses tied to this event,” he said. “Sure, there will be work done to spruce up the area and provide more security — things like that — but there are no great infrastructure requirements.

“Philadelphia does not need to build a new road, a new bridge or a new airport — items that have hurt other hosts in the past. The World Cup figures to bring a lot of economic benefit to the entire area because of that.”

Conversation Starter

Reach the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey at: or call 856-424-7776.