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A new estimate from FIFA and economic research and consulting firm Micronomics this week found that California is expected to receive $1.2 billion from hosting some matches during the 2026 FIFA World Cup. (FIFA: Fédération Internationale de Football Association)

A total of 16 cities in Canada, the United States and Mexico will host matches during the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Two of those are in California: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood outside Los Angeles and Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara outside San Francisco. Both sites will host five games during the regular tournament, with Inglewood then hosting two playoff games and Santa Clara one. In total, 13 games will be played in California during the tournament. Reports were released this week showing the economic impact for both cities. Projections show that LA County “can expect an economic impact of $594 million from the historic, 39-day tournament,” while the Bay Area can expect $630 million.

According to Micronomics, both regions will see an increase of at least 180,000 tourists during the World Cup. The company also noted that “World Cup fans will spend on average more than the average tourist during their stay, at $2,350 per person.” In addition, teams, international media and other tourists attending the tournament rather than going to the games will create a higher demand for hotels, restaurants and other economic factors. For Los Angeles County alone, this will mean an additional $35 million in tax revenue, with the state receiving an additional $22.3 million in taxes from tourism in Los Angeles.

“In 2026, Los Angeles County and the Bay Area – powered by millions of Californians with roots from around the world – will showcase our diversity and strength to the global community and provide an unparalleled home for the World Cup, including the United States' opening game,” Governor Gavin Newsom said this week. “The World Cup will generate an estimated $1.2 billion for communities across the state while creating jobs and boosting tourism across California.”

“The World Cup will generate an estimated $594 million in revenue for Los Angeles communities, create jobs throughout the region and boost tourism, building on the state's record-breaking tourism numbers from last year and preparing the region to host the 2028 Olympic Games.”

However, many sportsbooks have predicted lower amounts, as most fans do not stay for the entire tournament and typically only attend one or two games.

“Micronomics' forecast is really optimistic,” Keith Gerard, an auditor for several sporting events, told the Globe on Wednesday. “But let's look at it critically. 12 of the last 14 World Cups have lost money overall. In the United States, that was never the case in 1994 because the infrastructure was already in place and the huge stadiums for American football could attract large crowds.”

“But there's a lot more economic impact than just tourism spending. The cost of security is going to be huge. I mean, think of all the overtime that police officers alone are going to have to work. Inglewood, Los Angeles and the surrounding cities are going to have to pitch in. And think of the extra traffic, too. That means lost work hours for a lot of Los Angeles residents. That means a lot of Los Angeles residents are losing money. The same goes for Santa Clara, which is even farther away from the hotels and attractions that tourists usually visit.

“The report only focuses on the monetary positives. If you include all the negatives, the number shrinks very quickly. They're lucky that they don't have to renovate much and that the infrastructure is already being improved because of the Olympics in LA and faster funding in the Bay Area. Without that, it would be bad. We need honest overall numbers, not just the good parts. We need the bad and ugly parts too.”

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