It’s absolutely devastating.
I’ve heard some compare it to Baltimore’s failed attempt to land an expansion NFL franchise in 1993. I’m not certain there will ever be anything that feels as deflating as watching Jacksonville be awarded the NFL’s 30th franchise. It’s hard to comprehend for fans of a certain age because the Ravens arrived so shortly thereafter, but the end of the expansion effort truly felt like the definitive death knell for our city to ever find football life again after the theft of the Colts.
This pain isn’t that pain. But I understand the comparison. Baltimore played every aspect of the 2026 World Cup process perfectly. And yet when it came time for our city to reap the rewards, the shenanigans of a system that not only welcomes but arguably encourages malfeasance ultimately denied our opportunity to shine on the largest global stage.
This truly was the perfect opportunity. The incompetence of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder left Baltimore in a place to benefit despite not being home to a high-level pro soccer team. It felt like a perfect storm. Even if the World Cup does return to the United States in our lifetimes, it is difficult to fathom the situation allowing for a market like ours to be this close to tasting such a spectacle and overwhelming economic boom.
Robert Kraft had every right to try to use his power and influence to sway FIFA toward Boston. I mean, this is FIFA we’re talking about, after all, an organization where “up and up” has historically only referenced the dollar figures in bribery offers. And our city and state knew who we were getting involved with from the start of the process but, you know, it still doesn’t feel good.
I hope that Baltimore will ultimately be selected as a training base for the event. Maryland Sports executive director Terry Hasseltine says that silver medal could still provide a $75-100 million economic lift to the area.
But we wanted the matches. We wanted the world to see our city. We wanted to spend $1,000 on a random matchup between Cameroon and Martinique on a Tuesday afternoon.
This devastating setback has predictably led to the worst of us making statements of absolutely no value about the city’s crime rate or our displeasure in some (or all) politicians. I promise you that I’d love to see all of this (and every) city’s problems solved immediately. But all cities have warts. Ours just so happens to also be an incredible major event city. I know that because just a week ago I joined what felt like ALL OF THE REST OF YOU to take in a magical evening with Paul McCartney at Camden Yards. You guys showed up, supported downtown businesses and took advantage of what a wonderful place our city is for major events of almost any kind.
And that’s what I’m choosing to think about moving forward instead of wasting more time debating the structure of a major urban area. I’m choosing to fixate on the world class events that HAVE chosen Baltimore and do want to do business with our city and attempt to help bring tourism dollars to our local businesses.
I’ll be part of the broadcast crew for the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship at Towson University June 29-July 9. The greatest athletes in the sport will all descend upon Baltimore County (and the surrounding areas) as the U.S. looks to become the first country to ever win a world title on home soil. When I’m not working, I’ll take my sons to watch Team USA and celebrate our community hosting this spectacular event.
I wish I could do the same for the “Charm City Match” in July. I will be on vacation with my family but I hope the rest of you will pack M&T Bank Stadium for the Arsenal-Everton friendly to remind the world of what they’re missing in Baltimore as a soccer community.
And while admittedly cycling is not a sport I’ve spent much of any time watching in my life, I look forward to finding out how I can get more involved with this September’s Maryland Cycling Classic. I absolutely intend to be at Navy/Notre Dame downtown in November. After I missed it last year, I truly hope I can learn more about equestrian at the Maryland Five Star in nearby Cecil County in October.
Plus, the PLL makes its annual trip to Homewood Field this coming weekend and there’s a non-zero chance Booker Corrigan convinces me to participate in this year’s Baltimore Running Festival in October too.
You have to get the point.
I wish we were hosting matches in the 2026 World Cup. I’m distraught that we aren’t. But I’m not going to waste time complaining on the internet about the other political party because I so desperately want it to be at fault. I’m instead going to channel my energy toward the events that have chosen our city and want to be economic partners with us and hope that the support we show for them will help allow more and more world-class events to choose to call us home in future years.
I hope you’ll do the same.
And if you happen to end up with an extra ticket to one of the 2026 matches in Philadelphia or New York … please remember how much you’ve enjoyed this column space throughout the years.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox