FIFA officials will spend at least two days meeting with the Seattle World Cup bid committee starting on Oct. 31. FIFA officials are also expected to attend the Seattle Sounders-LA Galaxy match on Nov. 1. That’s one day longer than they’ll spend at most sites as Seattle comes at the end of this portion of their tour, which will start on Oct. 21. Joining Seattle on this portion of the tour are Kansas City, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, San Francisco, and Monterrey, Mexico.
During their time in Seattle, FIFA officials will “meet with local stakeholders and discuss key topics such as venue management, infrastructure and sustainability as well as commercial, legal and legacy matters. The visits will also comprise inspections of essential infrastructure, such as stadiums, training facilities and potential FIFA Fan Festival venues,” according to the press release.
In addition to touring the Seattle Seahawks’ Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC), Sounder at Heart has also learned that FIFA officials will do a site visit and view plans for a new Sounders training facility they hope to build well in advance of the 2026 World Cup. Sounder at Heart has been unable to confirm the location of that new facility, but it has become increasingly apparent that the club has outgrown its current situation at Starfire Sports Complex.
The Sounders have long insisted that upgrading Starfire is one of the options they’ve given serious consideration. Starfire was considered one of the league’s top training facilities when the Sounders first entered MLS in 2009. While it remains vaguely adequate — the grass training pitch is nearly perfect, for instance — virtually every team in MLS has since built a dedicated training ground of their own, leaving Starfire closer to the bottom third of the league.
Seattle is one of 22 cities still officially in the running to host games during the newly expanded 48-team tournament. It is expected that 16 venues will make the final cut, 11 of which are expected to be in the United States. There are 17 U.S. cities still being considered.
Aside from potentially completing a new training facility, it was not immediately clear if the Seattle bid committee is pledging to make any other permanent upgrades to the local soccer infrastructure. Boston’s bid, for instance, includes a pledge to convert the artificial turf at Gillette Stadium to a permanent grass playing surface.