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World Cup bid effort aiming to unite Philadelphia soccer community

The messaging for the bid and the partners involved seek to unite the city and region around the beautiful game

Philadelphia isn’t quite Saint Louis in terms of its history with the beautiful game, but soccer has a long and rich history here predating the modern era that makes it seem like it would be fertile ground to grow into one of the top soccer markets in the country.

Since the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will coincide with the 250th birthday of the Declaration of Independence, staging games in Philadelphia — particularly on July 4th — seems almost automatic. But bids for any major event, from political conventions to Olympics to NCAA championships, don’t happen with the stroke of a pen.

That’s why the organizers of the effort to bring the World Cup to our city in 2026 took time to hold a press conference at Lincoln Financial Field the week of the Gold Cup quarterfinals (I’m sure the stadium already being set up for soccer was a big factor) to update the public on the effort and to unveil branding and messaging.

Mark Gonzalez, president & chief creative director of Playmakers Studio, the local creative agency that oversaw the branding for the project, said connecting and building the grassroots supporter culture in the city will be key to the bid.

“One of the things the Union showed us in the old days was the power of the fan,” said Gonzalez, who joined the new venture launched by Philadelphia Union minority owner Richie Graham about a year ago. “The more we get fans to show FIFA and U.S. Soccer that the whole region is into the game and is going to do whatever it takes to make sure we get it that’s the selling point.”

To that end, Playmakers Studio has organized a “Trifecta of Champions” viewing party event for the Women’s World Cup, Copa America and Gold Cup finals happening this Sunday at Love City Brewing in the Callowhill neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Mark Gonzalez, president & chief creative director of Playmakers Studio, unveils the branding for the Philadelphia 2026 World Cup bid at an event at Lincoln Financial Field on June 24, 2019

During the unveiling of the branding at the press conference at Lincoln Financial, Gonzalez, a former executive at Under Armour, called for fans to show their support for the effort by joining a supporters group on the website.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney echoed a similar sentiment while plugging the Philadelphia Unity Cup he launched in 2016. The fourth Unity Cup final will be played for the second year at Talen Energy Stadium on October 12.

“As we continue our efforts in bidding for the World Cup we need to show FIFA and U.S. Soccer just how much our city loves soccer,” Kenney said. “I hope to see many fans cheering at Unity Cup matches across the city this summer and fall. It will be a true testament of our city’s values as a welcoming city and our passion for soccer.”

Philadelphia Union Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott, Sporting Director Ernst Tanner and Technical Director Chris Albright, who was part of the U.S. squad for the 2006 World Cup, were all present at the press conference.

“It’s going to take everybody rallying around this concept, this project to bring the World Cup to Philadelphia,” McDermott said.