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Kansas City leaders to make trip to Qatar in preparation for 2026 World Cup

Replica of FIFA World Cup Trophy
Cameron Taylor speaking to Catherine Holland
Posted at 6:00 AM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 07:22:23-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the FIFA World Cup now underway in Qatar, Kansas City leaders will be paying close attention ahead of 2026.

Kansas City is one of the host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Leaders are making a trip to Qatar next week as part of an official FIFA-hosted observer tour for future host cities.

Director of the KC2026 FIFA World Cup Bid Katherine Holland will be part of the small delegation that will be going to Qatar.

“When people ask what your bucket list sporting events are, I always said World Cup,” Holland said.

The delegation for the official observer tour is limited to three people. Holland will be joined by KC Sports Commission and Foundation President & CEO Kathy Nelson. Executive Vice President of Arrowhead Operations Matt Kenny will also be on the trip.

“I think it’s going to be incredibly eye-opening. Every time we’ve ever engaged with FIFA or frankly anybody who has attended a World Cup, they emphasized you cannot possibly understand the size and scope of this event without experiencing it,” Holland said.

The three-day itinerary will be jam packed. They’ll get a behind the scenes look at safety and security protocols, the stadium, transportation, and how a FIFA fan fest is operated.

“When I say they’ve got us programmed literally in half hour-to-hour increments for three days straight, it is a very intense, behind the scenes look at pretty much everything we need to consider that goes into producing and hosting this event,” Holland said.

The delegation will be paying very close attention to the transportation system. Kansas City is contractually obligated to have a free and dedicated World Cup transit system.

Leaders are exploring two ideas including multi-modal transportation with various hubs around the metro and a long-distance park and ride for visitors from nearby states.

They’ll also focus on what a World Cup stadium looks like. As currently operated, GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium will need some renovations and upgrades to be considered FIFA compliant.

“I think it will clear up a lot of questions. I think it will also probably raise a lot of questions that we will have for FIFA coming out of this,” Holland said.

Another delegation from the city will focus on the early phases of the World Cup. Holland’s team will see the later matches.

When the delegations get back, they’ll debrief on the experience and share their findings. The idea is to have organizers begin the core planning process in early 2023.