NEW YORK — New York/New Jersey stepped up their bid to host the final of the 2026 World Cup by promising a spectacle on par with "eight Super Bowls" at a launch event on Thursday for the tournament which will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino gave no indication as to which of the host cities across the three countries would stage the finale when the venues were announced last year.
The neighboring states, which will welcome fans at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey - face stiff competition from Los Angeles, whose $5.5 billion indoor-outdoor SoFi Stadium has more of a razzmatazz appeal.
"We want to host the final. There is no better place to host the final than at MetLife Stadium," said retired NFL hero Michael Strahan, who made his name with the New York Giants but has now fallen in love with soccer.
"This is football, okay? That thing I did is guys running around in tight pants running into each other."
#michaelstrahan at #Nyc #2026WorldCup pic.twitter.com/P2dtm4G1pG— Front Row Soccer (@FrontRowSoccer) May 18, 2023
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who was joined at the Times Square launch by New York Mayor Eric Adams, promised a spectacle beyond what the region has ever seen before.
The venue, then known as "Giants Stadium", hosted seven World Cup matches in 1994 and four during the 1999 Women's World Cup.
"We think we're going to get at least eight games - that's eight Super Bowls," said Murphy.
"Every single ticket will be sold out, I guarantee you. No matter who's playing."
The launch event was among several in host cities across the continent on Thursday, a day after Los Angeles launched the "WE ARE 26" campaign to promote the tournament.
Infantino called the slogan "a rallying cry."
"It's a moment when three countries and an entire continent collectively say: 'We are united as one to welcome the world and deliver the biggest, best and most inclusive FIFA World Cup ever'," he said.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Pritha Sarkar)