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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Heading to ‘Boston Stadium’? FIFA Says You Are for 2026 World Cup

  • Global soccer governing body refers to tournament stadiums by generic names.
  • Policy is designed to protect FIFA’s own commercial interests.
Gillette Stadium
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Now that FIFA has finalized the match schedule for the 2026 World Cup—to be held in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico—a particular quirk of the global soccer governing body is coming to the forefront: FIFA’s refusal to abide by existing corporate stadium names, monikers that in most instances were solidified long before FIFA planned to bring the tournament to North America.

FIFA’s long-standing policy has been to give sponsorship presence in the World Cup only to those companies that pay it directly, and the organization considers corporate stadium names a form of “ambush marketing.” During prior World Cups, this issue has surfaced to varying degrees. But the U.S. stands as one of the most active and highly developed markets in the world for sports facility naming rights, bringing the policy to a new level of prominence.

“We consider ambush marketing to be a priority in our brand protection work, as this practice puts FIFA’s commercial program directly at risk by effectively devaluing official sponsorship,” FIFA said. 

To get a sense of the naming-rights dollars that will, essentially, go to waste, here’s a list of the scheduled U.S. and Canadian venues for the 2026 World Cup—corporate names; what FIFA is calling each for the tournament; and an estimated worth of their current naming rights:

  • AT&T Stadium / Dallas Stadium / 20 years, $400 million
  • BMO Field / Toronto Stadium / 10 years, undisclosed cost
  • GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium / Kansas City Stadium / 10 years, undisclosed cost 
  • Gillette Stadium / Boston Stadium / 15 years, $120 million (extension)
  • Hard Rock Stadium / Miami Stadium / 18 years, $250 million
  • Levi’s Stadium / San Francisco Bay Area Stadium / 10 years, $170 million (extension)
  • Lincoln Financial Field / Philadelphia Stadium / 14 years, $167 million (extension)
  • Lumen Field / Seattle Stadium / 15 years, $162.7 million (extension)
  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium / Atlanta Stadium / 27 years, $324 million
  • MetLife Stadium / New York New Jersey Stadium / 25 years, $400 million 
  • NRG Stadium / Houston Stadium / 32 years, $300 million
  • SoFi Stadium / Los Angeles Stadium / 20 years, $625 million

The FIFA rules will require stadium signs to be covered up and not referred to in game broadcasts, unless those companies strike separate agreements with the governing body. FIFA is also mandating the installation of grass fields, much to the frustration of the NFL Players Association, which has lobbied against artificial turf in NFL games.

“Look, I would love for it to be called Arlington Stadium, but I get it,” said Arlington Mayor Jim Ross of AT&T Stadium. “The bottom line is we are going to put on a wonderful show.”

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