ATLANTA — Atlanta has been chosen as a host city for the 2026 World Cup.
Now Mercedes-Benz Stadium officials said they're preparing for an event that kicks off in about 1,460 days -- and they welcome whatever the FIFA World Cup will bring to Georgia.
"What an exciting day for the Peach State," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said at a press conference, celebrating FIFA's decision to make Atlanta part of the international sporting event.
Kemp touted reasons why he believed Atlanta made the cut, including the world's busiest airport and transportation options, apart from tourist attractions that would welcome an international audience.
"We certainly have a track record for hosting major events in this state and in this city," he said.
The Atlanta Sports Council issued a release with reactions from several city and state leaders. They said the rounds of the World Cup that Atlanta will host will be announced by FIFA at a later date.
Watch below: Atlanta leaders host news conference after FIFA's announcement
Arthur Blank, the owner of Atlanta United and the Falcons, said it will be "an incredible opportunity for the city of Atlanta to continue to show the world what we have to offer."
"Our stadium was built to host world-class events, and we would be honored to continue that tradition in 2026 with the World Cup," Blank said.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens shared that he is six months into his term and looks forward to seeing his hometown host a World Cup event.
“Atlanta is a soccer town, and we’re excited to bring the game’s best athletes to the world’s best city,” said Dickens in a statement. "Now the international world knows that we're an international soccer town."
The Atlanta City Council also issued a statement saying that with three Super Bowls and the Olympics, "Atlanta certainly has experience hosting top-tier sporting events in our city."
"It’s very exciting to add this incredible event to that rich history. Our city has the venues and the fan base for a truly special atmosphere. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our city to the world once again," the Council said.
Selection announcements were streamed on FIFA's website. Canada and Mexico are joint-hosting the tournament and are allotted three host cities each.
The site of the 1996 Olympics, Atlanta, was among those considered for the first U.S.-based World Cup in 1994 but ultimately not chosen to host games.
Last year, FIFA officials toured Atlanta as a potential host site.
"Obviously, you have the magnificent stadium here, and also transport links, sustainability, city infrastructure, accommodations, training sites, fan experiences," Colin Smith, chief tournaments and events officer with FIFA, said at that time.
Back in September, Smith did say the stadium would have to put in real grass for the World Cup instead of the turf it usually uses.
About Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Atlanta was considered a much stronger contender this time around, due to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The venue opened in 2017 and is one of the few NFL stadiums around the country that is almost as well-known for its soccer environment as for football, with the MLS club Atlanta United a top draw.
The Benz has an official capacity of 71,000 that can expand for special events to accommodate as many as 75,000 people. And Atlanta United is responsible for 10 of the top 11 MLS attendance records, all set in the last few years.
More than 72,500 people were in attendance for an August 2019 game against the LA Galaxy, a record crowd at the venue.