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Arlington Mayor Jim Ross, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney, FC Dallas President Dan Hunt, Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director Monica Paul, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker and representatives with the Dallas Cowboys and FC Dallas pose for a photo during Thursday afternoon's watch party announcement of the 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup. Dallas was later named one of the host cities.

On Wednesday night, Dan Hunt took to a stage at the epicenter of national soccer history, located in Frisco, Texas.

With Gina Miller, FC Dallas Communications vice president, to his left and FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez to his right, the FC Dallas President raised his mic to talk soccer with a gathered group of guests as the sun went down over Toyota Stadium.

It was a strategically timed event: It was the night before FIFA would announce 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup, and the anticipation was simmering as the crowd gathered in a room clad with U.S. soccer history.

The Wednesday night discussion came at the tail end of years of work to make a regional dream happen. That included coordination among such groups as FC Dallas, the Hunt family, the Dallas Sports Commission and multiple cities to make a case to FIFA, years of work and even pivoting a 2020 site visit by FIFA to a virtual exchange from the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco.

Even Wednesday, Hunt could outline by heart the specs that made the Dallas region and AT&T Stadium in Arlington a good pitch for the 2026 World Cup.

“The proposition is unbelievable,” Hunt said. “There’s nothing like this anywhere in the world.”

On Thursday, those efforts prevailed.

Almost 24 hours later, Hunt, standing on a balcony with Frisco city officials and other visitors, cheered as the dream became reality – FIFA had named the DFW region as a host city for the 2026 World Cup.

It was a pivotal moment for the region as a whole, but also for Frisco, which dubs itself “Sports City USA” and is home to FC Dallas, Toyota Stadium and, yes, the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

For Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney, the announcement Thursday marked an “energetic, monumental, milestone day.”

“All the cites came together to offer something different,” Cheney told the Dallas crowd prior to the announcement. “Of course in Frisco, we’re known as Sports City USA, and sports and tourism in Frisco is our lifeblood and is important to us.”

Josh Dill, director of sports and events with Visit Frisco, was also present at the Dallas announcement.

“I want to be really clear about this, FC Dallas, the Hunt family and, really, the Dallas Sports Commission took this bull by the horns and really drove this home, and I think Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Frisco and then several other cities all played their part,” Dill told the Frisco Enterprise, “and for big events like this, it’s really important that we’re a team and that we all put our best foot forward for DFW.”

When FIFA did come to town for a site visit, Frisco was part of that, Dill said. Now, the Thursday announcement has grand implications for Sports City, USA.

“We feel like our role is very clear that we’re going to be a base camp for one international delegation, maybe even more, but as they come into town to start to prepare for the World Cup, we’ll be a training site,” Dill said. “And then with the National Soccer Hall of Fame, we feel like we’ll have a natural draw for national and international soccer fans that come to the DFW area, that naturally they’ll matriculate up to Frisco and learn the history of soccer in our country, and we’re lucky to have that facility that showcases that.”

Dill described both “extreme excitement” and “extreme relief” that DFW had reached the milestone, making way for the real work to begin.

That includes working over the next year to make a case for what the Dallas region can host amid the world’s biggest sports event, including the international broadcast center and the referee training site and headquarters, Dill said. It also means making a pitch to FIFA about hosting the final at AT&T Stadium.

“So now we start to look at getting more in the finer details of hosting and seeing what kind of case we can make to be one of the premier hosts of this event,” Dill said.

And rest assured, Frisco will have a role in preparations as World Cup 2026 inches closer.

“We may not be scoring the goals by hosting the big matches, but we are going to play a significant role, and we really do look forward to the impact that it’s going to have on our hotels,” Dill said. “We’ve got so much growth going on, we know that our hotels will now be able to pencil in 30 to 45 days in the summer of 2026 where we will see extreme demand, and hopefully we’ll have some great tax collections and some great economic impact over that time”

For Sports City USA, that also means a chance to showcase the city of Frisco on a global stage.

“From the Frisco side, we’re really appreciative of being a part of the process, and really proud of the success that we had today and looking forward to making a bigger success and capturing as much economic impact for our city as we can throughout this process,” Dill said.

Audrey Henvey is the reporter for the Frisco Enterprise, McKinney Courier-Gazette and Celina Record. Email her with story suggestions at ahenvey@starlocalmedia.com.

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