SoFi Stadium to renovate ahead of the 2026 World Cup

Los Angeles World Cup Host Committee
Natural grass and retractable seating will be installed at SoFi Stadium ahead of the World Cup

Los Angeles is not hosting the 2026 World Cup final. But a game vital to the Los Angeles World Cup Host Committee will take place in the city, the United States’ opening match. 

On Sunday, FIFA announced the venues for each of the tournament’s 104 matches, with Inglewood, California’s SoFi Stadium hosting eight of them. Two such games will be two of the United States’s three group-stage matches, the first being the prize for the Host Committee. 

“Having the predictability to build around the event and having a countdown clock that starts towards June 12 in 2026 was something that we are very excited to deliver to our city and our region and to welcome the world here,” Chris Klein, Los Angeles Host Committee co-chair, and former U.S. Men’s National Team player told The Sporting Tribune.

But before any of that can happen, SoFi Stadium must undergo renovations, starting in Feb. One change will be replacing the corners of their lower bowl with retractable seating to allow more space. This will create roughly five meters of extra room. The stadium will also switch to natural grass from turf during the tournament per FIFA’s request. 

Senior Vice President of Facility and Campus Operations, SoFi Stadium, and Hollywood Park, Otto Benedict, said they are renovating so the stadium can return to its original form after the tournament.

“We will not be operating a natural grass stadium, but we are doing it in a way that it can be flexible, so when FIFA wants to come in, or other types of events, we can build that out and expect and then go back to our NFL configuration,” Benedict said.

Additionally, FIFA will designate whether on-field suites (and which other seating) will be made available for ticketed guests, media, etc. 

Regarding SoFi stadium’s name, FIFA prohibits corporate sponsors from representing host venues, according to the Dallas Cowboys website. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will temporarily change its name to “Dallas Stadium” during the tournament.

Benedict said the conversations regarding SoFi Stadium’s name and branding on campus are still ongoing. One aspect is confirmed, though: the stadium will take on a new name for the tournament.

Los Angeles World Cup Host Committee

Outside the stadium, transportation is a concern for some fans. The recommended metro stop is around a two-mile walk from the stadium at Hawthorne/Lennox. For NFL games, a shuttle takes fans from the C line stop to the stadium. Other public transportation options are available but usually require connections on buses or walks, which becomes time-consuming with traffic and other factors. 

Benedict said there will be shuttles running from various locations directly to their campus as they did during the College Football Playoff National Championship, Taylor Swift’s concerts, and Wrestlemania in 2023. He is confident their transportation plan will allow all fans to make it to and from the stadium. 

“Working with the Host Committee, working with FIFA, working with the Transportation Committee here, we’ve got a pretty good plan in place,” Benedict said.

The Los Angeles Host Committee also wants to involve Los Angeles’s MLS and NWSL clubs, LAFC, LA Galaxy, and Angel City in the build-up to the tournament. The specifics are still unclear, but they could be involved in a fanfest or other opportunities in the community, such as selling tickets. Their involvement aims to bring dedicated fans to the tournament, according to LAFC co-president and Los Angeles Host Committee chair, Larry Freedman.

“We want to target the most passionate, ardent fans of the beautiful game in the market,” Freedman said.

The tournament begins in roughly two years and a half, and many specifics have yet to be released. However, the Host Committee is taking steps to comply with regulations and develop the fan experience at arguably one of the most significant events in Los Angeles history.