Hobby Airport unveils Houston-inspired mural in hopes of a 2026 World Cup bid

A close up of the middle of the mural. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
A close up of the middle of the mural. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)

A close up of the middle of the mural. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Chris Canetti, president of the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee, spoke about the importance of the mural at its unveiling Oct. 12. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
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From left, Alton DuLaney, Mathieu Jean Baptiste, Hannah Bull and Mario Figueroa Jr. stand in front of the mural at its unveiling Oct. 12. DuLaney serves as curator of public art at the Houston Airport System, while Jean Baptiste, Bull and Figueroa Jr. all assisted in creating the mural. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The mural showcases different aspects of Houston, such as its history with space travel. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The mural also showcases famous Houston landmarks, like the Astrodome. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The mural spans 10,000 square feet and is 500 feet long by 20 feet tall. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)

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.

By Sierra Rozen

Metro Reporter, South Houston

Sierra joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in September of 2021 after graduating with a degree in communication and a minor in journalism from St. Edward's University in Austin, TX. Sierra covers all things in the South Houston area but in particular covers Friendswood ISD, Friendswood City Council and Harris County METRO. Prior to CI, Sierra served as the viewpoints and life and arts editor for Hilltop Views, as well as interning for Austin Woman Magazine.


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