***** UPDATE: Today, FIFA chose North America as host of the 2026 World Cup, with Atlanta as a possible site for tournament games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority campus. If MBS hosts games, the adjacent Georgia World Congress Center will house the World Cup media center. *****
The calendar says June and it’s an even year – that can only mean one of two things: The Summer Olympics or FIFA World Cup.
These bi-annual events keep even the casual sports fan entertained for a few weeks during a relatively slow time each year for televised athletics. This is the year of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia but folks in the United States (and Canada and Mexico) are already looking to 2026 when North America hopes to jointly host the international soccer tournament. The “United 2026” bid is only competing with one other: Morocco, and a winner will be announced just a day before the 2018 tournament begins on Thursday (June 14).
Like many other mega sporting events, FIFA now requires host countries to respond to specific criteria that will address environmental and social issues related to these events. In addition to carbon neutrality and zero waste, the United 2026 bid touts that all 16 venues that would be used for matches are already in existence, whereas Morocco would need to build several new stadiums.
One of those venues, of course, is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified Mercedes-Benz Stadium located on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s (GWCCA) campus in downtown Atlanta. Today, the stadium is part of one of the greenest convention, sports, and entertainment destinations in the world and in a city that places urban resiliency at the core of its future focus.
Who said the South isn’t “green?” Other events and organizations are taking notice, too, with the Green Meetings Industry Council and Net Impact both having hosted their annual conference in the “A” in the last few years.
Later this month Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host the 8th annual Green Sports Alliance Summit (June 26-27), an event featuring athletes, teams, venues, leagues, and partners discussing ways to create positive societal and environmental change through the cultural influence of sports. Next year, the U.S. Green Building Council will host its annual Greenbuild Conference and Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center, the world’s largest LEED certified convention center (Gold).
While Atlanta may have to wait another eight years before potentially hosting its first FIFA World Cup match, the city has made a strong case for why it would be a great host to an event that is increasingly focusing on the environment – and in a town where futbol fever is rising.