Keeping Kansas City out of 2026 World Cup would be a mistake


Kansas City Chiefs

A renovated Arrowhead Stadium would host games if Kansas City is selected as a host city.

Kansas City is in the hunt to become a host city of what I consider to be the world’s greatest sporting event.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup, hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, will be the first World Cup hosted by three nations, making it a landmark event.

It is going to be the second time the U.S. has hosted a World Cup. The first was in 1994, with games held in California, Massachusetts, Texas, Michigan, New Jersey, Florida and Washington, D.C. Some call Kansas City the Soccer Capital of America, and it would be a big mistake to leave it out of the World Cup in 2026.

Another reason it will be a landmark event is that it will be the largest World Cup of all time. The tournament will expand to 48 teams for the first time, normally hosting 32 competing nations. The expanded format also means that there will be 80 games total played in 16 host cities, compared to the 2019 World Cup in Russia, where 64 games were played in 11 host cities.

The United States will have 10 host cities, which must be narrowed down from a pool of 17 that have made the final cut— which includes Kansas City. Kansas City’s bid is being organized by Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt as well as Sporting KC Principal Owner and Cerner Corporation co-founder Cliff Illig.

Kansas City’s bid has a lot going for it, like the number of quality facilities that could host teams, games being played at a renovated Arrowhead Stadium with a capacity of 69,070, being within a four-hour flight to the furthest host cities, and already proving to be an American hotbed for soccer.

Assuming the largest cities are most likely to be chosen, Kansas City’s biggest competition are Nashville, Cincinnati and Denver. From these four cities, there will likely only be one or two selected. Still, Kansas City should stand as the frontrunner.

Compared to those other cities, Kansas City clearly is the best fit. It has experience hosting the biggest sporting events in America such as the AFC Championship, the World Series, All-Star games for MLB and MLS, and the MLS Cup.

Kansas City also has a number of training facilities that could host teams, including Sporting KC’s current training facility, Compass Minerals National Performance Center.

With the success of Sporting KC along with continually being ranked toward the top in soccer viewership numbers and World Cup watch parties in recent years, Kansas City has proven its loyalty for soccer.

One of the few things Kansas City lacks is public transportation. The new airport will be a key addition, but the lack of public transportation is something that Kansas City must convince FIFA won’t be a detriment to hosting thousands of visitors from around the world.

The plans from other cities in the running have greater flaws. Denver’s altitude would diminish the quality of matches, something that FIFA must avoid. Nashville and Cincinnati both have stadiums with a capacity under 63,000 and don’t have as good of a record in supporting soccer as Kansas City.

Kansas City remains the best option considering its location in the heart of America and the size of Arrowhead Stadium, along with all the other features that Kansas City offers visitors: from eating barbecue, to visiting a museum or seeing one of the many fountains.