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Las Vegas Raiders stadium considered for 2026 FIFA World Cup

Updated August 15, 2017 - 5:54 pm

Las Vegas has a new sporting goal on the horizon.

Having successfully enticed the Raiders earlier this year, the city will now seek to become a host location for the 2026 World Cup.

The United Bid Committee of the United States, Mexico and Canada has asked 44 cities across the three nations, including Las Vegas, to declare their interest it hosting the games by Sept. 5, the committee said in a statement Tuesday.

“They contacted the governor, the Raiders and myself to assess our initial interest and obviously we are interested,” said Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “We decided to pursue what would be great opportunity for Las Vegas and Nevada.”

Raiders president Marc Badain confirmed in a text message to the Review-Journal that the team submitted a bid to be considered as a World Cup host site.

“It would be a huge win for the community,” he said.

It’s the first public acknowledgement that the Raiders are pursuing high-profile events for the stadium scheduled to open in 2020.

Final decision in June

The United Bid Committee and Morocco are the only entities to have submitted bids to host the 2026 World Cup. A final decision will be made by FIFA in June. The United States last hosted the games in 1994.

Should FIFA choose the United Bid Committee, at least 12 cities on the North American continent will host games, according to the statement.

Once North American cities declare their interest in the coming weeks, The United Bid Committee will review their submissions and issue a short list by late September.

The cities on the short list will then have until January to submit a more detailed bid. The committee will then choose 20 to 25 cities before submitting their bid to FIFA by March 16.

A stadium must have a seat capacity of at least 40,000 seats to host group stage matches and 80,000 to host the opening and final match.

The new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas will have a regular season capacity of 65,000 that is expandable to 72,000 for major events like the World Cup, qualifying it to host the group stage matches.

The stadium should be completed by 2020.

The United Bid Committee’s point of contact in Las Vegas has been with the Raiders, said Hill.

He expected that a local committee would be set up consisting of officials, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and business leaders to help with the process.

“This takes the whole area coming together,” said Hill.

Vegas well-prepared

FIFA officials and United Bid Committee members would both be involved in choosing the host cities, which will be judged on their stadium, hotel facilities, transportation system and training facilities.

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said the United Bid Committee’s invitation to the city to participate highlights just how important the future stadium is for the city.

“This exemplifies and solidifies that this facility can be used for a plethora of events that people never even thought of,” said Sisolak.

Hill and Sisolak said the city is well-prepared to host an event of this size.

“Las Vegas is set up for something like this as well as anybody,” said Hill.

While the city hasn’t conducted any economic studies, the games should be a boon for local hotels and restaurants.

New York City’s hotel occupancy stood at 74 percent in July 1994 during the World Cup games compared with an average of 65 percent during the same month from 1991 to 1993, according to the New York Times.

The overall economic impact on New York and New Jersey from the World Cup that year was estimated at $450 million to $500 million, according to the paper. That would be equivalent to between $750 million and $825 million today.

Review-Journal writer Ed Graney contributed to this report. Contact Todd Prince at tprince@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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