The Houston Airport System, in collaboration with the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee, unveiled a 10,000-square-foot mural at William P. Hobby Airport on Oct. 12.
Entitled “Gateway to the World,” the mural was painted by Houston street artist Mario Figueroa Jr., also known by his artist name GONZO247, and six other local artists. The mural is located on the side of a building south of Hobby Airport, and is visible from multiple takeoff and landing spots.
The city of Houston is aiming to get a bid to be one of the 10 cities that will host several of the 2026 FIFA World Cup matches. Fédération Internationale de Football Association will be visiting potential host cities during the end of November, with hopes of a final decision coming in early to mid-2022, per the FIFA website.
“[The mural] represents the spirit of Houston, which is evidenced by all the work that went into this collaboration,” said Chris Canetti, president of the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee, at the mural unveiling.
The artwork took approximately six weeks to complete and utilized paint, spray paint and paint markers, according to Alton DuLaney, curator of public art at the Houston Airport System, and Mathieu Jean Baptiste, an artist who worked on the mural. Some of the main features of the piece include the Astrodome, the Houston skyline and an astronaut holding a soccer ball.
“We collectively wanted to show something that really spoke about Houston as in a snapshot of what you can experience while visiting the city,” Figueroa Jr. said.
Figueroa Jr. has also created projects for the Houston Marathon, the George R. Brown Convention Center and J.W. Marriott, among others.
The hope is that the mural will show Houston is well-equipped to handle being one of the chosen cities, DuLaney said.
“We really wanted to create something monumental to show that everything is bigger in Texas. Our murals are bigger in Texas and our soccer matches can be bigger right here in Houston, Texas,” he said.