A few major details about the men’s 2026 World Cup games in Foxborough and 15 other North American host cities will be cleared up Sunday.
That’s when FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, will reveal how many games will be played in each city, where the three host countries (the US, Mexico, and Canada) will play their group games, and where the final will be held.
But if you want to gain clarity on the thousands of other details remaining for an event still nearly 2½ years away, summon some patience and consider this: Even the name of the local stadium where games will be played is up in the air.
The edifice currently known as Gillette Stadium will identity-switch to “FIFA World Cup Stadium Boston” or “Boston FIFA World Cup Stadium” while the tournament is being played.
Meanwhile, the person charged with waiting out key decisions that mostly come out of FIFA’s Zurich headquarters is not twiddling his thumbs.
“I think we’ve been very successful in our 2023 launch and we feel really comfortable with what we have to do in ‘24,” said Mike Loynd, president of Boston Soccer 2026.
“Quite a bit of work has been done. I think it’s been a very fruitful year … The machine is there; we have targets now and a project timeline.”
Loynd went to work early last fall with an emphasis on large-scale, top-down planning.
This year, the more detailed bottom-up planning ramps up as his group begins to size up staffing needs, crowd estimates, security measures, FanFest and viewing sites, and fund-raising structures.
Expediting customs procedures and arranging security and transportation at airports, arranging hotel rooms, plotting out uniform distribution, media and volunteer facilities, and figuring out if the organization’s offices should stay near the stadium or closer to Boston are all items that will have to be checked off.
Besides extensive consultation with Meet Boston, Boston 2026 is working with the town of Foxborough, the city of Boston, state officials, federal agencies, and the Kraft Group on planning.
In 2025, it will be time to implement plans, ramp up hiring, and get into detailed procurement.
By 2026, it’s all about readiness testing and executing the game plan.
Getting from today to the first games in June of 2026 will start with a staff that currently numbers 8-10 consultants and will grow into the thousands, including short-term employees and volunteers.
Loynd estimates a budget in the neighborhood of $75 million.
The money will come from donors — hospitality packages will go on sale this year — and corporate funds from the 10 locally sourced “supporters,” which is another way of saying “sponsors” without interfering with the major corporate sponsors shelling out dollars to FIFA.
That’s in large part why all 16 host stadiums will have new monikers — so that naming rights don’t clash with FIFA partners.
There have been reports over the last several months about friction between FIFA and host cities, as sports owners used to considerable power within their realms are chafing with FIFA’s iron grasp of control and at times plodding pace of decision-making.
“We are finding the balance to that; FIFA has been very collaborative with us to find that balance,” said Loynd, who oversaw security at Foxboro Stadium for the 1994 World Cup and went to event management at five Olympics plus assorted other international sports competitions.
“Branding is certainly something that’s really important to FIFA, and how that is managed and rolled out is very important because they rely on the funding of their sponsors to achieve what they achieve. That’s a pretty complicated mix for FIFA.
“Both parties are working really hard at it, so I’d say it’s a positive. It was tough going last year. I think we’re getting better at it this year.”
One compromise that appears to have been reached is the amount of reconfiguration Gillette Stadium will need to have a regulation 115-by-74-yard soccer field with circulation space around its perimeter.
“We thought we were going to have to cut into each of the corners [of the field-level seats], but I think we’ve found some compromises,” said Loynd. “We reduced the amount of construction work for the corners and it might be down to one [corner] at this point.”
The artificial surface won’t be replaced until spring/summer of 2026, but since this Patriots season ended, work has already begun on irrigation and air-flow systems that will encourage grass growth. The artificial turf the Patriots and Revolution play on will be put on top of the enhanced systems in time for those teams’ games this year and next.
All Gillette signage, including the Gillette Stadium signs that sit atop the videoboard and overlook Patriot Place, as well as all other Patriots-related advertising, will be taken down or covered up for the duration of the games.
A little is known on other topics, as well:
▪ Tickets: Boston Soccer ‘26 will have a small allocation for supporters and donors. Tickets for the general public, an allotment controlled by FIFA, will go on sale around October next year.
▪ FanFest sites: Boston City Hall Plaza is being looked at, plus other sites.
▪ Team training sites: Local university and colleges are the most likely destinations.
Part of the fund-raising is intended for legacy projects, which could include mini-fields, creating opportunities for underserved communities, coaching development, and growing existing soccer grassroots organizations.
“Our goal is certainly to put on the best World Cup that we can in Boston and as well to leave a lasting legacy,” said Loynd. “Our profit is really our legacy. Any excess revenues would be applied to legacy projects.”
Correction: The name of the stadium used for World Cup matches in 1994 in Foxborough was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.