Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel seeking World Cup 2026 final, Super Bowl for Hard Rock Stadium

Hal Habib
Palm Beach Post
Lionel Messi (left) and Neymar prepare for a free kick during a Barcelona-Real Madrid match at Hard Rock Stadium in 2017.

Hard Rock Stadium has hosted Super Bowls, the college football national championship, Barcelona-Real Madrid and, this weekend, a Formula 1 race.

Tom Garfinkel wants more.

He wants the biggest sporting event in the world.

Garfinkel said Wednesday night that he recently met with officials from FIFA about Miami’s bid for World Cup 2026 matches and made a pitch for the final — the quadrennial event that has more eyeballs on it than any other worldwide sporting event.

“I’ve had a couple of meetings in the last week or so on World Cup 2026 with high-ranking officials from FIFA and we certainly want the World Cup here in ’26,” Garfinkel said. “We told them we want the final here in ’26. So that’s what we’re trying to shoot for.”

Garfinkel also confirmed that Hard Rock is working to land another Super Bowl and college football title game.

This is the first time the World Cup final has specifically been targeted by Miami. In the past, Garfinkel has said he’d be happy with whatever FIFA assigns to Miami.

Ten yachts will be part of the unique touches for the Miami Grand Prix at Hard Rock Stadium this weekend.

The favorites to host the final have long thought to be Dallas, Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey, all of which will have stadium capacity on its side. Garfinkel, managing partner of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix and the vice chairman, president and CEO of the Dolphins, can point to several points in twisting the arms of FIFA officials.

Hard Rock was packed for a meeting of bitter rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2017. It was only the second "El Clasico" ever held outside Spain. Garfinkel and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross can claim a similar coup in persuading Formula 1 to sign a 10-year deal for Miami Gardens.

Super Bowls (11, to be exact), college football title games, the Miami Open tennis tournament and high-level concerts only further boast Garfinkel’s claim that the venue is a world-class entertainment destination after Ross pumped millions into upgrading the facility.

That Hard Rock Stadium will get some World Cup matches for the first time is considered a virtual lock. Now it’s a matter of how deep into the tournament this will go.

“It’s not up to us but we think there’s no better place to play a great soccer match than at Hard Rock Stadium with the pitch that we have and the way it’s designed,” Garfinkel said. “Miami, again, I think it’s the most dynamic city in the country.”

What was the reaction of FIFA reps when Garfinkel made his pitch?

“You know,” Garfinkel said. “Probably everybody else wants it, too. But I think they’re impressed with the venue. They understand the importance of Miami as a global city and as a great soccer city and as a dynamic city.”

Hal Habib covers the Dolphins for The Post. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.