MetLife Stadium get skin in FIFA 2026 show


MetLife Stadium to remove seats for FIFA 2026 Image: Metlife Stadium, Anthony Quintano, CC BY 2.0

The MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey, US) officials plan to remove 1,740 seats to widen the field for World Cup matches as they hope to host the 2026 final but will retain a narrower surface for this year’s Copa América.

‘abc NEWS’ stated that the stadium in suburban East Rutherford, New Jersey, is among the contenders for the final of the expanded 48-nation, 104-game World Cup to be held on July 19th, 2026, along with the 80,000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (US).

The 82,500-capacity MetLife Stadium is an open-air multipurpose stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey (US), five miles (8 km) West of New York City. Opened in 2010 to replace the now-closed 80,242-capacity Giants Stadium, it serves as the home for the New York Giants and the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). At an approximate cost of $1.6 billion, it was the most expensive stadium built in the United States at the time of its completion.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup™, marketed as FIFA World Cup 26™, will be the 23rd FIFA World Cup™, the quadrennial international men’s soccer championship contested by the national teams of the member-associations of FIFA. The tournament will take place from a yet to be determined date in June to July 19th, 2026. It will be jointly hosted by 16 Cities in three North American countries: Canada, Mexico and the United States. The tournament will be the first hosted by three nations and the first North American World Cup since 1994. Argentina is the defending champion.

The 2024 Copa América will be the 48th edition of the Copa América, the quadrennial international men’s soccer championship organized by South America’s football ruling body the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL). The tournament will be held in the United States and co-organized by the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf). The MetLife Stadium is one of 14 host sites for the 48th edition of the CONMEBOL Copa América 2024.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) is the continental governing body of football in South America and it is one of FIFA’s six continental confederations. The oldest continental confederation in the world, its headquarters are located in Luque, Paraguay, near Asunción.

Miami (US)-based the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, abbreviated as Concacaf, is one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies for association football.

Put in Phil Murphy, New Jersey Governor, “I speak on behalf of New Jersey but also as our partner of New York City, do not underestimate how aggressive we’re prepared to be to get the best package of games possible.”

‘abc NEWS’ further stated that the FIFA has not announced a date for revealing the sites of the specific games, and the FIFA media office would not speak about renovations at other stadiums. For the 1994 tournament, FIFA announced sites of specific games in June 1992, awarding the final to the 89,702-capacity Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California (US).

Heimo Schirgi, who replaced Colin Smith as the World Cup’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) last July, was not available for comment. Unlike the 1994 World Cup, FIFA is running the 2026 tournament itself without a Local Organizing Committee.

FIFA said in a statement, “The few stadiums that require capital projects are handling each project differently – with some venues scheduling the work across multiple NFL offseasons, while others plan to complete everything at once sometime between now and Spring 2026.”

The MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010, has had a high crowd for sports of 83,367 for a Jets-Giants NFL game in October 2023, and the World Cup bid book estimated a capacity of 74,895. The current dimension for soccer matches is 70-by-115 yards (64-by-105 meters), spokeswoman Helen Strus said.

Strus said construction will be in the corner and extend along the sidelines, though the field-level club areas will not be impacted. The removed seats will be in the corners and will be replaced with seats in removable sections after the World Cup. Governor Murphy said who pays the cost of the construction was under negotiation.

Maintained Governor Murphy, “The FIFA setback provisions really impact MetLife only at the corners. The other stadiums have a much tougher nut where they have to set the entire perimeter back. The FIFA wants a deal that works for them. New Jersey and New York City – remember our partners New York City – we’re prepared clearly to put serious skin in the game. In fact, we have already.”

The FIFA requires a 75-by-115 yard (68-by-105 meter) field for the World Cup games, although that requirement was ignored by some venues during the 1994 tournament. Both MetLife and AT&T will have to replace artificial turf with grass, along with stadiums in Atlanta, Foxboro, Massachusetts, Houston, Inglewood, California, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

MetLife’s narrower field was used for the 2016 Copa América Final, won by Chile on penalty kicks over Argentina, and will be used for three matches at this Summer’s South American championship: Argentina-Chile and Uruguay-Bolivia Group Stage games and a July 9th semifinal.

Murphy also hopes the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) will stage a European Champions League final at MetLife -“We would be able to sell 10 stadiums worth of tickets for the UEFA Champions League Final. We would welcome the opportunity, and I’ve said many times I welcome the opportunity to host what we would call in the States regular-season league games for any of the big European leagues at MetLife, as well.”

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan, as well as some Asian countries such as Israel, Cyprus and Armenia. The UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Since 2022, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.

Joe Trahan, a spokesman for the NFL team Dallas Cowboys, who run the Cowboys home pitch – the AT&T Stadium – declined to comment on dimensions and possible changes. He referred questions to FIFA and the Dallas Sports Commission, which did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The FIFA awarded the 2026 tournament to the United States, Mexico and Canada in 2018 and announced the 16 Host Cities in 2022.

All 11 US stadiums for the World Cup are the homes of the NFL teams, which use playing fields of 53.3-by-120 yards (49-by-110 meters).

The Giants Stadium, adjacent to where MetLife was built, hosted seven games in 1994, including Bulgaria’s quarterfinal upset of defending champion Germany and Italy’s semifinal win over Bulgaria. At the 1994 tournament, the Government officials closed the Lincoln Tunnel to regular traffic to allow the FIFA executives faster access from Manhattan.

Concluded Murphy, “I think we’ll do the right thing by the VIPs who need to get transited. We’ll do it in a way which doesn’t take it out of the hide of the regular customers, but we’ll also do it in a way – we’re committed that to FIFA, that we’ll move folks expeditiously and with the right level of care.”

New York (US)-based the National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

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