The two largest international sporting events, The World Cup and Olympic Games, will be hosted in a few U.S. cities in 2026 and 2028. Both events require massive work by host cities, and new development projects will be large and expensive. This effort is already launching hundreds of new contracting opportunities for private sector companies.

Eleven U.S. cities were selected to host games for the 2026 World Cup in North America. The list includes Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. The average economic impact that can be expected by each city is $620 million.

In Kansas City, officials have developed new and simplified protocols for faster delivery of infrastructure projects. One immediate change is the city’s Planning and Development Department is now allowing third party firms to review land development applications and perform maintenance inspections. The change is expected to decrease average permit review turnaround time by 67 percent.

Along with input from state and federal counterparts, local leaders in Kansas City will also construct a public park over a stretch of the I-670 roadway leading to the downtown area. The elevated public park project carries a projected cost of $160 Million.

“Construction time” by andrechinn

The city will invest hundreds of millions of dollars to expand local transportation options with one project slated to extend the Streetcar Authority services from Union Station to the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. The $351 million extension project will allow tens of thousands of World Cup attendees to navigate the heart of the city more efficiently.

The 2026 World Cup is expected to bring 3,000 new jobs and a $400 million economic impact to Dallas. Projects designed to enhance mobility will be at the top of the city’s priority list. A region-wide Cotton Belt Hike & Bike Trail will be developed, and that project will use the regional network of multiuse trails to connect various parks and greenspaces to local transit services. Construction is slated to begin in 2024.

City leaders in Atlanta, as a host city to the Olympic Games, will focus on integrative mobility to ensure connectivity for visitors, participants, and citizens. Immediate projects are linked to the existing Atlanta Belt Line project. The work will center around a 22-mile loop of trails, transit, and greenspaces. Currently, fewer than half of the transit project’s intended trail segments have been delivered. But that issue will be remedied soon since the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority committed to $1.2 billion in funding to ensure all remaining segments are completed.

Philadelphia is already funding projects to make the city more conducive to soccer competition on a global scale. Before the World Cup takes place, the city must identify a training site where national teams can practice during the eight-week tournament. While fulfilling that mandate, the city has a goal to also develop areas for guests and citizens to use later. The FDR Park Master Plan creates a natural green setting for basketball courts, tennis courts, an accessible playground, picnic lawns, and 12 interspersed, multi-purpose athletic fields—two of which could serve as possible training sites in time for the 2026 World Cup. This effort has been budgeted for $250 million.

The city of Los Angeles drew double-duty as one of the selected hosts for 2026 World Cup matches and as the sole host of the 2028 Olympic Games. Officials have set aggressive timelines for delivering monumental projects. The enthusiasm also extends to projects in areas immediately surrounding Los Angeles and, because of that, the governor has announced $1 billion in state money for critical public transit projects to prepare the entire region for the Olympics.

In anticipation of the 2028 Olympics, the city of Inglewood’s $1.4 billion automated people mover project is almost ready to launch. The city is nearing an agreement on the final environmental review of the project, which should end this summer. Anticipation of the 2028 Olympics has also led community leaders in Long Beach plans to capitalize on LA’s Olympic spillover with a revitalized Veteran’s Memorial Pier. A preliminary budget assigned to the project is set at $102 million for demolishing the city’s existing pier, designing a replacement pier, and developing new retail and restaurant space around the pier. The project, currently in the design phase, is scheduled for completion before the opening ceremony of the 2028 L.A. Olympics.

Many additional projects will be announced in the coming months. But private sector companies interested in getting involved should be talking to community leaders now. Many of the extremely large projects are still in the planning stages, and innovative and visionary input should be welcomed.
Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.