World Cup
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Could the World Cup be Jacksonville’s Next Big Sporting Event?

Already a city with a long sports history, Jacksonville has definitely made a big surge in the world of sports within the past few decades.

The city has played host to a Super Bowl, multiple men’s college basketball tournaments, U.S. Olympics basketball training sessions, and more.

Now, Jax is in a perfect position to make a strong bid for the 2026 World Cup.

The United States Soccer Federation revealed the shortlist of candidate cities that have been sent information requests in preparation for the organization’s bid to FIFA to make North America the host of the 2026 World Cup. Jacksonville was listed as one of the 34 U.S. cities chosen.

The city now has until September 5 to declare their interest in further consideration – and it seems fairly likely that we will do so. The city previously applied for consideration in 2010 for the 2018 bid, but missed the final cut.

In total, 44 cities are being considered as part of North America’s combined bid, which will then compete with Morocco for FIBA’s selection. Around a dozen cities will likely be part of the final bid.

EverBank Field would be the chosen venue if Jacksonville were to be selected.

There’s no doubt that the games would be well-attended in Jax. EverBank Field has hosted multiple U.S. men’s national team games, drawing crowds of up to 52,000.

The Armada FC started off with strong attendance, too, before poor on-field results began eating away at crowd numbers.

That being said, Jacksonville being selected may still be quite a longshot.

While the city has plenty of soccer fans, it doesn’t have the same degree of soccer fever as others in consideration – such as Orlando, for example.

The city also lags behind others in infrastructural details such as transportation and hotels located near the stadium. The still-embarrassing struggles with hotel space during the city’s Super Bowl hosting stint would likely be brought up during consideration – especially since the situation hasn’t improved a whole lot since then.

Given that fans travel from across the world to World Cup games, a hotel shortage could be even more of a critical flaw than it was during the Super Bowl.

And though EverBank Field’s capacity of 64,000 would be considered acceptable for World Cup host stadiums, it’s still smaller than all but a few of its national competitors.

Nonetheless, it’s exciting to see Jacksonville on the short list, as it continues an encouraging pattern of interest in the city from major sporting events.

Do you think the World Cup would be good for Jax? Let us know in the comments section or on social media!

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The Coastal is Jacksonville’s newest magazine, founded in 2015 to provide news, reviews, and things to do for young people on the First Coast.