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Detroit’s hopes of hosting matches in the 2026 World Cup remain alive, after the list of potential North American host cities was cut to 32 earlier this week.

The United Bid Committee is working its way down to a final list of approximately 12 cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico, from an original list of 41.

The nine cities that were cut from the original list include: Birmingham, Ala.; Cleveland; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; New Orleans; Ottawa, Ontario; Pittsburgh; Regina, Saskatchewan; and San Antonio.

Ford Field would be the host venue if Detroit were to make it to the final list.

“As we move to the next stage of the bid process, we’re even more confident we have everything needed to deliver the largest, most compelling FIFA World Cup in history and help accelerate the growth of soccer across North America and around the world,” United Bid chairman Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “We have more than double the number of cities required to stage matches in 2026.

“We have a vision for growing the game and engaging fans as never before. Our biggest challenge will be finding ways to honor the enthusiasm of all the people across Canada, Mexico and the United States through the development of our united hosting concept.”

Representatives from Detroit and other potential host cities will travel to Houston the week of Nov. 13 for a work session with the United Bid Committee.

The United Bid Committee is taking into account a number of factories in its host-city selection process, including city profile, stadium and support facilities and transportation.

Some still consider Detroit a long shot, as the World Cup tends to prefer outdoor stadiums with natural grass, while Ford Field is an indoor facility with artificial turf. Its capacity of 65,000 is on the smaller size, as well — although only two of the 12 stadiums set to host matches in Russia in 2018 have larger capacities — and there are concerns whether the soccer-field dimensions would fit at Ford Field.

World Cup matches last were held in Michigan in 1994, when the Pontiac Silverdome was one of nine host venues from across the United States. It was the only indoor stadium of the nine.

Thirty-two teams from across the globe compete in the World Cup.

The 31 other potential host sites for 2026 remaining in the mix include: Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.;’ Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New York/New Jersey; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Salt Lake City; San Francisco/Bay Area; Seattle; Tampa, Fla.; and Washington, D.C.; Edmonton, Alberta; Montreal; Toronto; Vancouver; Guadalajara, Jalisco; Mexico City; and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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