When Chile and Peru start their Copa America trips at the AT&T Stadium on Friday, D-FW's two-year football odyssey also begins.

Between the start of the Copa America and the semifinals of the 2026 World Cup, the D-FW metroplex is set to host 12 tournament games over the next two years, more than any other city. Despite the burgeoning soccer culture, the main reason for the region's repeated selection is logistical: North Texas ticks all the boxes.

D-FW is one of the few metropolitan areas in the country that can immediately provide all the amenities necessary to host tens of thousands of fans. These include modern stadiums (like AT&T Stadium in Arlington), ample lodging, plenty of restaurants, a busy airport, and training grounds for international teams – the kind of infrastructure that many previous host cities had to build specifically for major sporting events.

While Chile and Peru take center stage at the Copa America, a North Texas family is grateful for their good fortune

Preparing for such an event can cost communities millions of dollars, and without long-term plans for use after fans leave, these improvements often fall into disrepair.

“From a sustainability perspective, I’ve been to so many World Cups where stadiums have been built, hotels have been built, airports have been renovated, this and that have been done and then the World Cup is over,” Dan Hunt, president of MLS team FC Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News“We are ready. There won't be many more changes because we already have everything.”

Great result

Despite all the drama and spectacle, the financial success of a sporting event depends as much on the players and fans as on the preparation.

“It would have been surprising if Dallas had not been included on the World Cup list,” said JH Cullum Clark, director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative and associate professor of economics at Southern Methodist University.[It is] not because Dallas is so damn important compared to any other place, but because it's simply on the list of places that have all the advantages.”

Dallas is set to see a boost to the local economy by attracting world-class soccer and laying the groundwork for the city to become a tourist destination. When audiences from all over the world see what the area has to offer, if all goes to plan, visitors could be persuaded to invest in the local economy.

With all the infrastructure already in place — except for public transportation to the stadium — D-FW is in a unique position to “generate as much revenue as possible with as little effort as possible,” even if it means reducing long-term earnings, Clark said.

Hosting the two tournaments offers almost guaranteed financial benefits in the short term. The revenue potential of the World Cup is considerable.

Initial estimates suggest D-FW will generate $400 million in profits, but Scott Wysong, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Dallas' Gupta College of Business, said he forecasts up to $1 billion in additional economic activity.

There are other economic benefits to the Copa America, a tournament that “cannot compete with the World Cup in terms of popularity and impact” because it is usually played in South America with only South American teams, says Bob Heere, director of sports management at the G. Brint Ryan College of Business at the University of North Texas.

Still, more lucrative television deals and more luxury stadiums in the U.S. mean that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL – the soccer associations that organize the tournament and share the majority of revenue, according to ESPN – can fill the stands just as they do in Brazil or Argentina, but make significantly more money, Heere said.

That's partly because “Americans love sports and are more willing to pay for the experience than anywhere else in the world,” he said.

FC Dallas President Dan Hunt, left, speaks alongside Monica Paul, executive director of the Dallas Sports Commission, during a news conference at the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, in Frisco, Texas. AT&T Stadium will host nine games, the most of the tournament.(Elías Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

Corner (Kick) of the Fan Market

Winning over existing sports fans and convincing them to come to soccer games this summer and in 2026 is an “easy task,” Hunt said, but it's a necessary step if the region wants to become a soccer hotbed beyond its facilities.

Clark noted that D-FW's rapid population growth and growing diversity are fertile ground for continued soccer enthusiasm. Heere and Hunt both see potential for MLS to declare its intent as a global elite league and for FC Dallas to expand its status as a talent factory if its stars perform well. At the very least, the Copa America provides a logistical and gameplay “dry run” for the World Cup in two years, Wysong said.

The Copa America also has great potential for soccer brand awareness due to the dense concentration of elite national teams in South America and the high likelihood that the U.S. men's national team will face one of those teams, Wysong said.

While it may still be “a bit of a novelty” for the average sports fan, Hunt said, the 2016 edition of the tournament in the United States was one of the most profitable and well-attended in its history, attracting 1.5 million fans in total, with just over 46,000 per game.

Arlington expects 45,000 people to attend each Copa America game, said Tim Ciesco, media coordinator for the Arlington Police Department. Heere said he believes this summer's tournament will surpass 2016's numbers.

Recent trends in Dallas – and Texas in general – are consistent with this.

In July 2023, AT&T Stadium set a record with a sold-out 82,000 seat capacity for a friendly between Real Madrid and Barcelona. A match between Mexico and Brazil earlier this month drew more than 85,000 spectators to Kyle Field in College Station. Hunt said FC Dallas has sold out Toyota Stadium in Frisco nine games in a row this season, a club record.

The growth of sport is therefore not the largest Despite the large part of D-FW's side mission to football, there is still a lot to gain for the team and the country.

“This is a football-mad city and a football-mad state,” Hunt said. “And now the country has truly become that way.”

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