The Topline: Boston Back at the Bidding Table: World Cup 2026 Edition

FIFA announced on Wednesday that the United States, Mexico, and Canada won a joint bid to host the 2026 Men’s World Cup. The tournament will be a first on a couple fronts – the first to feature an expanded roster of 48 teams, and the first to be hosted by three countries. The U.S. will host the lion’s share of the matches at 16 currently undecided venues.

Among them is likely to be Boston – or, more accurately, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.  Already a World Cup host in 1994, chances are good Foxborough will make the cut. Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, is the honorary chairman of the World Cup bid and has already established a nonprofit, Boston Soccer 2026, to cover costs.

Boston is no stranger to the economic tradeoffs of hosting sporting events after a brief, contentious, and ultimately unsuccessful stint as the U.S. bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The proposal was widely unpopular, as MPG’s WBUR poll found repeatedly over the months when the bid was still active. The last poll before the plug was pulled on the bid showed 50 percent of voters statewide opposed, including 53 percent in the Greater Boston area. Another WBUR poll showed that voters were skeptical of claims that hosting the Olympics would bring economic and infrastructure gains, and worried that the Games would be more expensive than budgeted.

In contrast, a survey conducted on behalf of the United Bid for the 2026 World Cup (so have your grain of salt at the ready) showed 77 percent of North Americans (74 percent in the U.S.) supported co-hosting the World Cup. Support rose slightly to 79 percent when respondents heard that no new stadiums would need to be built to host the Cup. The top reason to host? A positive economic impact, cited by 61 percent of supporters (64 percent in the U.S.). About half (49 percent) of bid opponents in all three countries cite cost as a concern. Only a third of Americans opposed are worried about that, while 46 percent said it’s simply because they aren’t soccer fans and have no interest.

The infrastructure lift for hosting a few soccer matches at an existing stadium is much lighter than building the venues and villages for an entire Olympiad. But there will still be a bill. Besides the expected big ticket items like marketing and public transit, FIFA requires host cities to agree to cover a range of additional costs, including security and any facility adjustments they deem necessary. Chicago, Minneapolis, and Vancouver all pulled out of consideration due to the uncertainties of shouldering these additional expenses.

Critics often point to the bloated costs of hosting such events and the raw deal host cities get – public debt, an increasingly smaller share in revenue, and custom-built facilities that then have to be repurposed and maintained. Proponents, meanwhile, point to anticipated increases in tourism dollars and local publicity, not to mention the intangible distinction of hosting a global event like the World Cup.

But with the hosting spread between 16 cities in three countries, the actual economic impact for Boston could be minimal. Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, a frequent critic of Olympic and World Cup bids, estimates the local impact would be like adding a few extra Red Sox home games.

At least in 2026 there will be a home team to root for – even if the USMNT blows it again, host countries traditionally get an automatic spot in the tournament.

MPG ICYMI

MPG’s president Steve Koczela (and his impressive Twitter gif game) is noted in The Boston Globe. In the piece, Steve discusses the importance of the pending Supreme Judicial Court ruling on the so-called millionaire’s tax, and other policy decisions that are held up by the delay.

This week on The Horse Race, we check in on races flying under the radar and the “Grand Bargain” being hammered out on Beacon Hill.

Last week, we recapped the results and surprises of the state’s Democratic nominating convention.

THE CROSSTABS

FiveThirtyEight puts President Trump’s approval rate at 42 percent, disapproval at 52 percent. Morning Consult takes a look at those numbers in a state-by-state breakdown. (Massachusetts disapproves 61-35 percent.)

FiveThirtyEight’s generic ballot puts the Democrats ahead of Republicans by 8 points.

MPG’s Steve Koczela is quoted in The Boston Globe about the praise Democrats have for Gov. Charlie Baker, and how that makes it difficult for the Democrats challenging him for the seat.

A Suffolk University poll for the Globe, finds in Massachusetts, 49 percent of likely voters would keep the transgender accommodations bill, 37 would vote to repeal, and 13 percent are undecided.

Suffolk also looked at the Wynn Resorts issue and found that while 80 percent are aware of the sexual misconduct allegations against the company’s former CEO Steve Wynn, a plurality want the company to retain ownership of Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.

However that number is split along gender lines; only 36 percent of women support Wynn Resorts retaining ownership, compared to 57 percent of men.

President Trump announced this morning a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. A Quinnipiac poll conducted earlier this month found 52 percent support a tariff on Chinese products.

A Morning Consult poll finds 40 percent of registered voters oppose the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico, Canada and the EU; read the crosstabs here.

Pew Research Center finds a majority of Americans believe freedom of information should be protected even if it means false information can be published. A majority also say tech companies (as opposed to government) should take steps to restrict false information online.

An NPR/Marist poll finds 67 percent of online shoppers have either a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Amazon to handle their personal information. In comparison with the overall perception of online retail, 52 percent do not trust companies with their information.

A HuffPost/YouGov survey finds Americans support Trump meeting with Kim Jong Un, 61-21 percent. A Monmouth University poll puts support for the meeting at 71 percent. But few think America came out of the summit better than North Korea.

A Fox News poll finds 71 percent support allowing illegal immigrants who were brought here as children to stay in the U.S.

Buzzfeed News and Whitman Insight Strategies conducted one of the most comprehensive polls on the LGBTQ experience to date. Among the findings: more than half of LGBTQ adults are Christian, nearly half identitfy as bisexual or queer, and 21 percent say they have to lie about an LGBTQ identity at work.

SurveyMonkey finds U.S. soccer fans are leaning towards cheering for Mexico, Brazil or Germany in the men’s World Cup; the U.S. team did not qualify for the cup this year.

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We leave you with this gem to close out your week. Steve Koczela: concerned public citizen or obsessed madman?

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