SEATTLE. Those whoops you heard as you walked down 36th Avenue in Fremont? It was only about 10% joy.
Yes, visitors to The George and Dragon Pub were thrilled that the biggest sporting event in the world was taking place in Seattle, but the other 90% were a relief.
No logic in the world could console the football fans whose every emotion hung on Thursday’s announcement. All the predictions of pundits did not matter to those who convinced themselves that they were about to be rejected.
But when it became official – when FIFA announced on Fox Sports 1 that Seattle would be one of the host cities for the 2026 Men’s World Cup – the Emerald City’s premier football bar screamed as if their team had just equalized in the 90th minute.
“I was very nervous, but now I am very excited. It was a big weight off my shoulders. It’s very nice that this is happening in Seattle. This is what I have been waiting for most of my life,” said Dan. Pagard, co-owner of George and Dragon. “It will be great in many ways. People will come to Seattle without even knowing that they are going to visit it because of the World Cup. They will fall in love with this city and tell all their friends about it. It.”
Before the 16 host cities were announced, including three in Mexico and two in Canada, FS1 broadcaster and former US men’s national team quarterback Alexi Lalas spoke of the inimitable World Cup experience. He told his broadcast partner that the tournament “changes countries, changes cultures, and changes cities”.
Perhaps, apart from the Olympic Games, no event can highlight a metropolis like the World Cup. And unlike Los Angeles or New York, Seattle didn’t have an international major plan.
Income is one thing. Visit Seattle for an early – very early – estimate that the World Cup will fetch between $90 million and $100 million in 206. But more than that, there’s worldwide fame.
Regardless of which national teams compete here or how many games Seattle hosts, this city can be riveted to a billion viewers. They will see the waterfront, they will see the greenery and, most importantly, they will see that the Puget Sound region’s passion for the beautiful game is up to international standards.
“I think it will show people that we really are a football city,” longtime Seattle resident Charlie Crawford said from his seat at the George and Dragon Hotel.
His wife, Patty, was a little more pithy.
“This city is going to go crazy,” she said.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer repeated Patty’s prediction while standing at Pier 62 a couple of hours after the announcement. It was the epicenter of Thursday’s celebrations as Washington Gov. Jay Inlsey, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, among others, addressed the crowd.
Schmetzer called his experience watching the World Cup games in California 28 years ago “life-changing”. And he knows that the grandeur of the event, mixed with the energy of Seattle, can create an atmosphere unlike anything this city has ever seen.
“What we’re going to do is take the local Seattle scene and multiply it by 10 or 20,” Schmetzer said. “It’s just going to be a big deal.”
A couple of minutes later, a reporter pointed to the spectacular weather Seattle was enjoying on Thursday afternoon and asked Schmetzer “how ideal” it would be to host a World Cup match under those circumstances.
“It will be better than perfect,” he said.
This required a lot of effort and energy. Politicians, investors, and other influencers have played their part in cementing Seattle as host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. But mostly they were the inhabitants of this city.
Last month, almost 69,000 people gathered at Lumen Field to watch the Sounders win the CONCACAF Champions League title against the Pumas of Mexico City. If FIFA was 99% sure that Seattle was worthy of the World Cup before this match, then after that it was 990% sure.
Without a doubt, Seattle can be a sports city in good weather. But few cities can match his zeal when the stakes are very high.
So rest assured, Hanauer spoke for the entire Emerald City when he grabbed a microphone on the waterfront on Thursday, beamed at the crowd and said, “We did it.”