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Baltimore, Washington D.C. Merge Bids For 2026 World Cup

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) -- Baltimore and Washington D.C. are joining forces with the hope of landing games and a fan festival during the 2026 World Cup.

The cities are merging their bids, with M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, serving as the site for matches, and the National Mall hosting a fan festival.

FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, dropped out of bidding to host games. Opened in 1997, the field was among the older facilities that initially bid in 2017. It hosted matches during the 1999 Women's World Cup. D.C.'s RFK Stadium was the site of matches during the 1994 men's World Cup and is slated for demolition.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser noted the tournament would take place during the United States Semiquincentennial.

"I am extremely excited to join forces with the District of Columbia to strengthen our bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2026," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring another world-class event to Charm City. Mayor Bowser and I want to ensure we give our cities the best opportunity to win this major event which will provide massive economic boosts for both urban centers."

Washington officials anticipate the city could accommodate more than 1 million attendees for FIFA Fan Fest.

"We know that the Washington-Baltimore bid is a winning bid. We're a sports city, we're a soccer city, and people from across the nation and around the world will want to be in and near DC in the summer of 2026 when we celebrate our nation's 250th birthday," said Bowser. "When you bring all that energy to the greatest tournament in the world, across two fantastic American cities, that is going to be an unforgettable experience."

All 2026 World Cup matches will be played in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the sport's governing body is considering 17 U.S. cities to host games.

In September, representatives from FIFA and U.S. Soccer toured M&T Bank Stadium and other sports amenities in Baltimore. During that tour, officials also toured the nation's capital, Boston, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia and Miami.

Officials have also toured Kansas City, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as Edmonton and Toronto in Canada and Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey in Mexico.

The organization said it expects to make selections in the first or second quarter of this year.

The Maryland Sports Commission has led the charge to bring games to Baltimore.

Prior to FIFA's visit last summer, the group touted M&T Bank Stadium's downtown location and the proximity of hotel rooms, training facilities and other amenities.

"Situated just 10 miles from the BWI Marshall International Airport and with more than 10,000 hotel rooms within walking distance, the stadium and city plans are also consistently praised for offering a great fan experience and generating a real sports-mad city buzz," organizers said in a press release.

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and local sports apparel company Under Armour have all thrown support behind the bid to bring World Cup games to Baltimore.

Last November, Rutherford, who serves as co-chair of the committee behind Baltimore's bid, and Maryland Sports Commission executive director Terrance Hasseltine met with executives from the English Football Association at Wembley Stadium in London to discuss hosting the logistics of hosting large soccer games.

The lieutenant governor praised the joint bid from Baltimore and Washington.

"The combination of our two world-class cities in the Capital Region will provide FIFA with exceptional soccer facilities for match play in Baltimore, and the grandeur of the nation's capital for cultural activities to celebrate the World Cup in the United States," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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