KANSAS CITY, Mo — Kansas City is among 17 cities in America competing to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The FIFA World Cup delegation was in town Thursday to see what the city has to offer and to visit potential venues. It is one of the final steps in the bidding process.
The Kansas City Sports Commission’s president and CEO, Kathy Nelson, said the direct impact of an event this size will be tremendous.
“Why should we care? There’s a legacy that will come with this that we’re still trying to define what does that mean — is it a better transportation system, does that mean there’s better equity for different communities in our city, or is everyone playing soccer," Nelson said. "I mean there's so many things that come from this, that the impact is yet to really be understood, which I think is so exciting.”
According to recent data by the Boston Consulting Group, the host city is expected to generate $620 million from tourism. Nelson said she believes hosting the event could be a game changer for Kansas City’s economy.
“When you think about putting 60, 70, 80 thousand people in that venue for five, six, seven matches, and then on top of that you have training facilities, you have base camps and then you have fan fest that come with that — there will be people just like a Super Bowl or a [NCAA] Men’s Final Four that don’t have a ticket that go to that city to be around that energy,” Nelson said.
Bid Director Katherine Fox said she believes Kansas Citians will directly reap the benefits. Hosting the World Cup means improvement on infrastructure, transportation and the workforce. Those upgrades will stay in Kansas City long after the games.
“I think Kansas City is on the up and up when it comes to existing infrastructure that is already happening ... the World Cup would be another catalyst to head down that path,” Fox said.
The FIFA delegation said there is a list of requirements the host city needs to meet.
“We look at transport, we look at accommodations, we look at media facilities, broadcast facilities, we look at sustainability, of course we look at commercial and financial aspects as well and we look at the stadium,” FIFA’s Chief Competitions and Events Officer Colin Smith said.
FIFA Vice President and Concacaf President Victor Montagliani encourages all bidding cities to showcase who they are.
"I was already asked the question by the governor of Missouri in terms of, 'What’s it gonna take?’ My answer to him was, ‘You just gotta be what you are.’ And at the end of the day you can’t be what you’re not,” Montagliani said.
FIFA will finish up its visits by the end of this year and announce the winners in early 2022.
“We wear our hearts on our sleeves and we wear it proudly. They know that we care and we’re passionate,” Nelson said. “Today in our presentation, we talked about our passion, our experience and our regionality — and that’s who we are.”