While FIFA is branding the World Cup as a Dallas event, it will actually be hosted in Arlington, creating a spiral of issues for the unprepared city of Dallas and unfairly discrediting its true host city, Arlington.
The FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest international events and, on paper, Dallas is one of the 16 North American cities that will host the 2026 games. However, the World Cup will actually be held in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. With the world thinking the games are in Dallas when they’re actually in Arlington, conflict will breed between the two cities over jurisdiction and transportation.
While Arlington Mayor Jim Ross mentions regional efforts in preparing for the World Cup, Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director Monica Paul seems keen on noting Dallas-only efforts, undermining Arlington.
“From infrastructure and arts to top-level training facilities and a world-class venue in AT&T Stadium, Dallas offers everything that the committee could have wanted in a host city,” Paul said.
In reality, the AT&T stadium is both located in and owned by Arlington. With the dominating direction of the Dallas Sports Commission and other Dallas leaders, Arlington is left overlooked as Dallas overtakes what would be their jurisdiction, but denies the true host city its credit.
So far there have been no public reports of Dallas providing funding for the AT&T Stadium. All Dallas has provided thus far is making the bid for the FIFA 2026 World Cup to take place in the city. Initially, this seems to suggest that the World Cup would be hosted in The Cotton Bowl like it was in 1994, but that idea was quickly shut down in favor of Arlington’s air-conditioned stadium. And while it may be more ideal to tie the marketing to a bigger city, it takes away from Arlington’s name.
Dallas must have a way of making a profit if they’re this adamant about using their name for the World Cup. With the mention of FIFA, a city gets partnerships, deals and all the like. But ultimately, when spectators come to the city of Dallas only to realize they’re in Arlington, transportation becomes an issue. Tourists will want to visit Dallas, but the city doesn’t have a convenient or respectable method of shuttling Arlington tourists and spectators to the city. One glance at a map, and you’ll realize that DART entirely avoids Arlington. Tourists could book a Lyft or Uber ride, but prices are expensive, averaging about $50 to and from Dallas and Arlington, with game day prices likely to spike. Even if Dallas finds an alternative, tens of thousands of World Cup fans will be shuttled off from Arlington to Dallas in the same hour. This rush will crowd polluted streets and already full roads that produced 35,500 car accidents in 2021, an average of approximately 97 car accidents a day.
Dallas easily has the resources to send buses and police to help with transportation and crime, but at that point, it’s only Dallas helping Arlington, not Dallas hosting. You’re not a host if you invite guests to someone else’s house. Perhaps there’s an argument that to better prepare North Texas as a whole, Dallas took the lead as the city with the most recognizable name. But truthfully, outside of networking, the real work belongs to Arlington. Dallas hasn’t pledged anything to help Arlington outside networking, but now more than ever they must help support another city both to maintain their image and to clean up their streets. When tourists get curious about what Dallas it really like, they’ll ultimately be disappointed when the limelight is in another city.