FIFA Needs To Bring The 2026 World Cup To Beaver Stadium

In case you didn’t know, North America will host the world’s greatest sporting event in summer 2026.

No, it’s not a Spikeball rematch between Penn State’s wrestlers and football stars. The United States, along with Mexico and Canada, will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Since the announcement a few years ago, American fans have been eager to find out if their city will be part of the party. From Los Angeles to Baltimore, 23 potential host cities have put forth a bid to be one of 16 lucky locations that get selected.

This got us thinking…why not Beaver Stadium? Between the size of the venue itself and Penn Staters knowing a little bit about partying, State College would make a fantastic venue for the World Cup.

OK, I get that State College isn’t exactly on this list of finalists. However, they are giving our friends in the “San Francisco Bay Area” a lot of leeways, so why not just make the City of Brotherly Love’s candidate the “Just Outside Of Philly” bid and extend that to Happy Valley?

I’m not saying that Philadelphia itself wouldn’t make a great host city. Lincoln Financial Field would put on a show, and since the event is in the summer, most students would be back closer to Philly anyway. But if Beaver Stadium got, say, three group stage games and a knockout match, I’m sure that flocks of Penn Staters would return as if it were Arts Fest.

One slight snag to my flawless idea is that FIFA has silly requirements for World Cup host cities. Maybe that’s to prevent a town of 50,000 in the middle of nowhere to host sport’s biggest spectacle?

Luckily, State College and Beaver Stadium are prepared for most of these conditions.

FIFA requires a bare minimum capacity of 40,000, a knockout round capacity of 60,000, and the venue of the opening game and championship match must both exceed 80,000.

Really FIFA? That’s cute.

The prospective stadiums also need to meet certain media requirements. According to Onward State’s very own Beaver Stadium specialist Will Pegler, that wouldn’t be a problem.

“Frankly, a World Cup at Beaver Stadium would be electric,” Pegler said. “It might get a little tight in the press box, but why not just throw some reporters on the roof? Throw some barriers up there and let the reporters get a bird’s eye view of all the action.”

Additionally, stadiums must be devoid of free advertising because FIFA reallyyyyyy doesn’t like that. For example, Allianz Arena in Munich was forced to change its name for the 2006 World Cup to “FIFA World Cup Stadium – Munich.”

Beaver Stadium is probably in the clear on this front. Lincoln Financial Field on the other hand? I’m not sure if Philadelphians would be very happy if the Eagles’ stadium was changed for the 2026 preseason.

Another snag, of course, would be transportation. It isn’t exactly feasible to have people from every continent dropping into State College as if Penn State football’s White Out was against the rest of the world.

There is just one solution I have that wouldn’t obstruct State College’s “small-town feel“: camping!

Let’s put Happy Valley’s miles of rolling fields to good use. Thousands of people from all nationalities would have a blast around the campfire and would gain a cultural experience to remember before yelling their lungs out on matchday.

That’s also where Penn Staters come in. Americans may know “nothing about real football,” but we sure know something about tailgating. I would love nothing more than for “Zombie Nation” to be blaring through the fields of Centre County hours before a 40-year old Lionel Messi leads Argentina into battle against Mo Salah and Egypt in the group stage.

FIFA has one last stipulation for host cities: An international airport must be within 150 miles of the venue, although it is usually expected to be closer. Although Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are too far away, lesser-known Harrisburg International Airport should do the trick to check off this requirement.

FIFA will begin virtual meetings with prospective cities this month. I’m not sure who needs to get Gianni Infantino’s number (Sandy Barbour? Ron Filippelli?), but someone needs to make this happen.

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About the Author

Otis Lyons

Otis is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He lives just north of San Francisco, and is a diehard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Feel free to send over your soccer hot takes to his twitter @otisnlyons1 and instagram @otislyons

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