Will Baltimore host one of many World Cup games in 2026?

BALTIMORE (WMAR) -

It’s empty now, but it’s the quiet before the storm.

Owner Patrick Russell knows that within a matter of hours, His Slainte (CIL AN CHA) Irish Pub and Restaurant on Thames Street in Fells Point will be packed with soccer fans for the 2018 World Cups.

"This pub will be packed the entire World Cup.  Every different nationality that exists in this area will be here, because they know that this is where to come to watch soccer... football."

Michael Evitts of the Downtown Partnership says Baltimore is well-positioned to become one of the 10 cities in the United States to stage matches when North America hosts the event in 2026.

"Baltimore as an international destination for major events is already on the map and the FIFA team has rated Baltimore City and M&T Bank Stadium and the Stadium Authority's bid for a World Cup hosting site is very, very high.  I think when you look at the competition out there, we're head and shoulders above just about any other city in the country."

It will take another two years to determine whether Baltimore’s dream of helping to host the event comes true, but the impact to the local economy could be remarkable.

"The last World Cup in Brazil had an economic impact of $14 billion and over 3 million jobs created, and here in Baltimore, we already have world-class infrastructure with M&T Bank Stadium, but when you think about the hotel rooms, the activity at the airport, the restaurants, the vendor sales and then all of the events as a city that we would create around the World Cup, the economic impact would be quite huge."

It's a point not lost upon Patrick Russell, whose patrons passion for the sport could translate into more profit should the world cup come to them.

 "I can't wait.  Last night, I found out that USA was going to be here in eight years and I said to my wife, 'Honey, (in 2024---to cut with bad date) our children are going to be going into their last year of college and we're going to be able to pay for their tuition without a problem, because the World Cup is going to be here."

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