Youth soccer associations from eight states — Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas — backed Kansas City’s bid with letters to the FIFA Bid Committee.
But that also put pressure on bid organizers to convince FIFA that it could come up with a plan to make the World Cup accessible to soccer fans in those eight states, if Kansas City was awarded a bid — which it was June 16.
To solve that problem, the KC2026 World Cup Bid Committee had a transportation engineer sketch out a hub-and-spoke “transit” concept with Kansas City at the center.
The spokes would reach Wichita, Tulsa, Little Rock, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha and Des Moines among other prominent Midwestern cities in the eight-state footprint.
If the proposal is adopted, buses from surrounding states would be sourced to bring soccer fans from those states with a park-and-ride concept utilized within Kansas City to help get visitors around to the various venues — including the Truman Sports Complex, downtown and the World War I Museum and Memorial/Union Station along with other locations tapped for World Cup-related events.
There have been no discussions with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority about its involvement yet, the organization confirmed, but a spokesperson for the Kansas City Sports Commission said “of course KCATA would be involved at the appropriate time.”
The city also is engaged in conversations with Amtrak about what train service from cities, including Chicago, might look like during the World Cup, and recently hired a FUSE Fellow to help develop recommendations for sustainable and equitable transit options with an eye toward the World Cup and beyond. Amtrak already offers daily service between Kansas City and Chicago and from Kansas City to St. Louis.
The city’s new FUSE Fellow, Andrew Ngui comes to Kansas City after nearly four years as the director of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council’s Office of Innovation and Startups in Illinois. He is under contract for 12 months with a mutual option to extend the arrangement beyond October 2023.
KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas announced plans for the hire in July.
The mass transportation piece is one of several significant changes anticipated in and around Kansas City, including a new single-terminal airport that opens next year and the world’s first purpose-built women’s professional sports stadium that opens in 2024.