Georgia lawmakers propose tax incentives to lure 2026 FIFA World Cup to Atlanta

ATLANTA — Thanks to Atlanta United’s success on the field and record numbers in the stands, Atlanta has grown into one of the hottest soccer cities.

City and state leaders hope to leverage that success to lure the biggest tournament of them all: the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Georgia already gave organizers of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and the 2019 Super Bowl a tax break with no sale tax collected on ticket sales.

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On Tuesday, a Georgia House subcommittee led by Alpharetta Republican Rep. Chuck Martin extended that break to cover the World Cup, too.

Martin says if they didn’t, that could lead FIFA, the international soccer governing authority, to look elsewhere.

“If not for doing this, we might not get that event. And if it’s important to get Georgia to get that event, then it’s important for us to take a look at the overall good for Georgia,” Martin said.

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The state would take a tax hit. However, leaders are counting on additional revenues from restaurant sales, hotel rooms and rental cars to more than make up the difference. Not to mention expanding Atlanta’s international image.

Georgia Democrat Rep. Dewey McClain played college football and pro football for the Falcons.

He said he knows there are some who worry over the loss of tax revenue, but also says the cost may be worth it in the long run.

“If we can ever get, give an incentive that we can get 10 tens as much off of, I think we need to do it. And sports is one of those,” McClain said.

The bill passed the subcommittee unanimously. Top Democrats say, for now, they are on board so long as the tax incentives don’t cost the state too much money.

FIFA awarded the 2026 World Cup to a co-bid submitted by the United States, Mexico and Canada. Ten cities in the U.S., three in Canada and three in Mexico will be selected as hosts.

Atlanta officially submitted a bid to host one of the two semifinal matches. FIFA visited Atlanta in September as part of its tour for possible World Cup sites. FIFA expects to finish the selection process later this year.

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