World Cup 2026: Murphy estimates $2B impact for NJ as funding questions linger

With the eyes of the world now on MetLife Stadium as the host venue for the FIFA World Cup 2026 final, the stadium and the state have a lot to do to make sure everything is ready for millions of international visitors in July 2026.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said there is no way to “overestimate how big of a deal this is” and that “for all intents and purposes, we could host this tomorrow” because “we start from a very good place.”

The tournament and, in particular, the final are likely to leaving a lasting impression on New Jersey and the metropolitan region.

“A legacy is defined by hard assets, soccer pitches that get built in places that otherwise wouldn't have been able to build them, all the way probably more importantly to what will probably be in the region tens of thousands of boys and girls who will take up soccer who might not have done that otherwise,” Murphy said.

He also highlighted what is expected to be a benefit to the economic development of the region as well, including revenues that he says are forecast in the billions of dollars and 14,000 jobs, which will be handled in partnership with New York City and Mayor Eric Adams.

What comes next? What will the tournament cost NJ?

But there is work to be done. Adjustments have to be made at MetLife Stadium itself to meet the FIFA requirements, including changes in seating and the transition to grass, plus security components and work throughout the region to improve NJ Transit, Murphy said.

An event of this magnitude obviously comes at a cost, and New Jersey has already paid more than $16 million in taxpayer money for work at the East Rutherford site without even knowing how many or which games would be played there.

And it’s not just the stadium that needs upgrades. NJ Transit is spending about $35 million on designs for a new transit route from Secaucus to the stadium.

With the games to be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, some of the work falls under the purview of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority which oversees the MetLife Sports Complex, including the stadium that houses both the Jets and the Giants.

It already has received $30 million to plan designs and upgrades at the stadium and surrounding property. It also developed a timeline for that work.

But New Jersey isn’t the sole host of the games. The bid was a collaborative effort with the city of New York, and officials have previously said costs would be split with New York City.

Ticket need-to-know: How to get World Cup tickets 2026 as final will be played at MetLife Stadium

Exactly how that will happen remains unclear, though. The authority has noted that New York City is “aware of our obligations with respect to stadium renovations necessary to meet FIFA field size requirements,” and a planning agreement among all the parties, including MetLife Stadium, is also being developed.

Murphy said the tournament — and the final, in particular — will bring in an estimated $2 billion for New Jersey and New York, but he doesn’t have a firm number as to how much the state will have to spend while getting ready.

The governor said both New Jersey and New York City will provide support, and that doesn’t “mean just balance sheet support but also support as in services.” He also said the “private sector will contribute a majority of the support” and the “net benefit will overwhelmingly be to the positive.”

“It's not cheap, but it'll be a fraction in total the money relative to the economic benefits that the region enjoys,” he said. And while he’s preparing for his next budget address in just a few weeks and this will be in the back of his mind, there is no “crisp answer as to where all that's going to land.”

Officials in Canada have previously estimated that the 2026 World Cup will cost them anywhere from $240 million to $300 million. In 1994, it was estimated that the event cost the United States roughly $500 million.

Where does the World Cup figure in Phil Murphy's legacy?

Although Murphy will be out of office for six months when the throngs of fans descend on New Jersey, he’s not “terribly focused” on his legacy but rather on the legacy that the tournament will leave for the state.

He noted that the Major League Soccer league came into being after the tournament came to the U.S. in 1994 and while there won’t be another professional league, it's a legacy that the “communities deserve and need that wind in their sails that will propel them.”

The complex has hosted major events in the past. Games during the 1994 World Cup tournament were held at Giants Stadium, MetLife’s predecessor, and since then, MetLife has hosted the Super Bowl in 2014 and Wrestlemania in 2019.

That Super Bowl is viewed by many as a debacle that New Jersey should keep in mind when preparing for the World Cup. Still, Murphy noted that there are some big differences between the two events, including the fact that the Super Bowl is one game but the World Cup tournament will bring eight matches to the stadium. Further, Murphy said the Super Bowl was held in February, and World Cup games will be held in the “sweet spot of summer.”

Murphy said this will help the communities surrounding the stadium and throughout New Jersey as visitors take advantage of all the Garden State has to offer.

FAQ: World Cup 2026 final is officially coming to MetLife Stadium. What you need to know

“I think the $2 billion impact is dramatically understated … There's going to be none of this ‘Hey, I'm just gonna go over to Jersey, watch the game and come back to New York City,’” the governor said. “You're going to have Central and Northern Jersey in particular — you're going to have people out in force at restaurants, bars, street fairs, fan fests — so that the impact on those communities as well as, frankly, I think all communities will be a very positive one."

The stadium is no stranger to soccer matches, either. MetLife hosted the Copa America final in 2016 and will host three games for the 2024 CONMEBOL Copa America tournament this summer.

And though the matches are the main event, Murphy said other events such as fan fests “both large and small” will likely draw crowds.

“You have eight games with the capacity that we’ll have — of about 640,000 people in total — to go to games, but you'll probably have double that, if not more, visiting the region who won't be in the stadium seat, but they'll be at a fan fest or a restaurant or a bar or a street fair,” Murphy said.

Planning for those fan fests is ongoing, though there will be fan engagement from both fan festivals and watch experiences throughout the region, on both sides of the river.

Katie Sobko covers the New Jersey Statehouse. Email:

This article originally appeared on World Cup 2026: NJ may see $2B impact, Gov. Phil Murphy says