NewsLocal News2026 FIFA World Cup

Actions

Ramp up underway as Kansas City prepares to host 2026 FIFA World Cup

World Cup Arrowhead3.png
Posted at 6:41 PM, Apr 11, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a little more than two years, the biggest sporting event in the world — the FIFA World Cup — will stage six games in Kansas City.

It probably still feels a long way off, but the reality is that a lot of work remains to pull off the event, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium and in the region.

“That work is getting underway and is intensifying over time,” Joe Reardon, the president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said.

The logistics of moving thousands, if not tens of thousands, of long-term tourists into, around and out of the city presents challenges for Kansas City with respect to lodging, transportation and health care among other sectors.

“There's so much work that the city has to do to get prepared,” Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes, who played in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, said. "And if there's one thing that we will be is we’ll be prepared for this World Cup,”

Kansas City, with its central location and relatively easy travel rigors, may also be a popular choice for some teams to make into a base camp.

Among the six games Arrowhead will host, two are knockout-round games, including the last quarterfinal match, but those are the KC 2026 committee’s focus these days.

“The games, although a heavy lift, those will be great,” Sporting KC CEO and KC 2026 Board Member Jake Reid said. “It's kind of, what happens around the games? It's a key focus right now.”

The KC 2026 Committee is responsible for fundraising and the logistics of preparing Kansas City and the wider region to host World Cup teams and games.

That work includes deciding on the location of FIFA Fan Fest, which may be announced as soon as this spring.

The committee also is answering the region’s conduit to FIFA, as well as for teams that may consider basing their World Cup stay in North America from Kansas City, assuming they qualify for the expanded field.

Transportation and the creation of a free and dedicated system to get soccer fans around town is another central issue.

Reardon acknowledged there still work to do “on the functional pieces of what World Cup will be like on the ground — transportation’s a big part of that, the transit component of moving hundreds of thousands of people around Kansas City on top of what we're doing every day, because this is a month-long experience.”

The committee understands that Kansas City has to remain operational for the people who live amid an influx of soccer-driven tourism.

“There are a number of activities in our community that we will need to shore up,” KC 2026 Board President Karen Daniel said. “We're in the process of trying to work through the various ways to actually determine what is needed with enough specificity to then ask for various contributions.”

Missouri has already provided $50 million to help renovate Arrowhead, which will have to temporarily remove some seats to accommodate the larger field size FIFA requires.

There haven’t been many updates from the committee in the first year since its formation, but that may start to change soon.

“I think ‘24 will be a big year for making those key decisions then, obviously, you’ve got all ‘25 and the first part of ‘26 to execute and get ready for them,” Reid said.

But perhaps the committee’s biggest job is making sure the World Cup is transformative for Kansas City and not just a cool event that rolls through town.

“We've always said from day one, if that last quarterfinal ends and everyone just goes back to, ’That was great,’ but there was no legacy from that then we've missed the boat,” Reid said. “I think that's the important piece to figure out.”