SEATTLE (KOMO) — Seattle will host the World Cup in 2026, and the city is now officially on the clock.
On Thursday, the Seattle organizing committee unveiled a logo for the event, which could include up to five or six “Super Bowl-sized” games at Lumen Field.
“The minimum audience for a World Cup match is 200 million people," said a beaming Peter Tomozawa, the CEO of the organizing committee. "The Super Bowl gets 175 million. This is just how massive this is."
Tomozawa left a high-ranking role with the Seattle Sounders to take on the task of inviting the world to come to the city, and how to house all the fans and media that will make the trip.
We’ve got a lot of work to do," Tomozawa said Thursday. "Luckily, we have great partners.
That involves every entity from the city and county to the state and private partners. Tomozawa is also working with Homeland Security and FIFA to try to land as many games as possible. It’s a herculean task he compares to planning for the 1962 World’s Fair.
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Given that, he acknowledges he has given subtle pressure to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell regarding the challenges downtown and with completing the Seattle waterfront project, now two years behind schedule, but planned to be opened by 2025. That is a key staging area for the World Cup festivities, with the committee planning a month-long festival in summer 2026 on the city’s front porch.
“I like to think that the World Cup is a big catalyst for all kinds of things," he said. "And certainly, we want to make sure that it does open on time. We'd like to think that, you know, the waterfront parks, grand opening is in 2025, with the coronation event will be in 2026."
It’s also fair to say the event, when combined with the MLB All-Star Game this summer and the NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, puts a spotlight on the parts of the city that have suffered the most during the pandemic. The retail core has not rebounded and the SODO neighborhood has been home to an abnormally high concentration of homeless encampments. Tourists tend to stay and walk downtown, and the games will be in SODO.
When asked if he thinks the World Cup can serve as a catalyst, Tomozawa said, "I certainly think it can. You know, that's why I'm doing it. I'm a resident. I live on First Avenue. This is really important. I think the core of the city is going to be so much better by that time 2026 rolls around. Sure, we have problems; every city has problems. But at the end you know we can use the World Cup as a catalyst for change.”
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Harrell also acknowledges the importance of getting the city ready for the games. He told KOMO News the following:
“My public safety staff, my executive teams meet very consistently, and they keep me apprised. So we feel pretty good about it. And again, looking at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, we're sort of using that as a stepping stone."
Harrell was asked if the waterfront will be done in time.
“That’s our goal,” he told KOMO News. “We’ve set it out there. That gives us a great goalpost by which to work against.”
The organizing committee expects to hear about how many games it will receive in the new, expanded format this fall.