Sports

Houston to host multiple Copa America matches in summer 2024

Mexico opens in Houston on June 22. NRG Stadium will also host another first round match and a quarterfinal.

NRG Stadium soccer fans
Daisy Espinoza / Houston Public Media
A group of soccer fans arrive at NRG Stadium for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup match between Mexico and Honduras on Sunday, June 25, 2023.

Fourteen U.S. cities, including Houston, will play host to Copa América next summer, with the semifinals at East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Charlotte, North Carolina, ahead of the July 14 championship in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The host Americans will be in Group C and open at Arlington, Texas, on June 23, then play Atlanta four days later and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on July 1.

The governing bodies of South America and of North and Central America and the Caribbean made the announcement Monday, filling in the cities that will be part of the 16-team tournament.

The quarterfinals will be held July 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston; July 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas; and July 6 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The semifinals will be in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on July 9 and Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium the next day. The third-place game will be in Charlotte on July 13, the eve of the final.

The draw is set for Thursday in Miami. This will be only the second time Copa América has been held outside of South America since the inaugural tournament in 1916.

“These venues are world-class and have passionate fans who are renowned for getting behind major events," CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani said in a statement.

CONMEBOL and CONCACAF announced last month that the June 20 opening game will be at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, while South Florida’s Hard Rock Stadium landed the final.

Reigning Copa América and World Cup champion Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, has been placed in Group A and will play in the Atlanta opener, as well as East Rutherford five days later and Miami Gardens on June 29.

The other sites revealed Monday: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California; Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California; Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida; Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas; and a smaller facility in the Kansas City metro area: Children’s Mercy Park on the Kansas side of the border.

Mexico opens in Houston on June 22, plays four days later at Inglewood and closes the first round on June 30 at Glendale.

Brazil heads group D and has games in Inglewood on June 24, Las Vegas four days later and Santa Clara on July 2.

Houston Copa America matches
Saturday, June 22 Mexico vs TBD
Monday, June 24 TBD vs TBD
Thursday, July 4 Quarterfinal: Group A winner vs Group B runner-up

Eleven of the venues are best-known as NFL stadiums, ranging in size from 63,400-seat State Farm Stadium to 82,500-seat MetLife Stadium. The other three — 25,500-seat Exploria Stadium, 20,700-seat Q2 Stadium and 18,500-seat Children’s Mercy Park — are Major League Soccer facilities.

Copa América is expanding in 2024, with six teams from North America joining the usual 10 nations from South America that compete for the continental championship. The format mirrors the Copa América Centenario in 2016, the only previous time the tournament was staged outside of South America.

"We will experience an unforgettable Copa América, enjoying the best football in the world in 14 magnificent stadiums," said Alejandro Dominguez, the president of CONMEBOL.

For the 2024 edition, the CONMEBOL regulars will be joined by six CONCACAF qualifiers. The host United States, Mexico, Jamaica and Panama earned their spots by winning in the Nations League quarterfinals, while March 23 playoff games matching Costa Rica vs. Honduras and Canada vs. Trinidad and Tobago will determine the final two entrants.

Two group-round games will be played at every site except for Charlotte — which has the pair of knockout matches — and the two Kansas City stadiums, which have one group game each.

MetLife Stadium, NRG Stadium, Levi's Stadium and State Farm Stadium are the only returning stadiums from the 10 venues that were used for Copa América Centenario, though games also were held in Orlando (Camping World Stadium) and the Los Angeles area (Pasadena’s Rose Bowl).

The final won by Chile over Argentina on penalty kicks — Messi memorably left the field in tears after putting his attempt over the crossbar — was played at MetLife Stadium outside of New York City.

Except for the Centenario tournament, Copa América hosting duties usually have rotated among the 10 COMNEBOL nations in South America. The arrangement called for Ecuador to host in 2024, but that country backed out because of security issues.

The U.S. stepped in to fill the void under a new partnership between CONMEBOL and CONCACAF.

Eight of the 14 stadiums for Copa América have already been picked as venues for the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

They are: MetLife Stadium, Hard Rock Stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Levi’s Stadium, SoFi Stadium, AT&T Stadium, NRG Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium.

Some of those venues could also be in the running for another major tournament that will be staged in the U.S. in 2025 — the expanded Club World Cup featuring 32 teams.

Montagliani said holding two major competitions ahead of the World Cup will "cement our region as a global hub for football.”