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‘Welcoming the World: How Kansas City Became a Host City’ details path to host World Cup

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Posted at 7:09 PM, Jul 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-18 20:09:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City will become the smallest city in the world to have ever hosted a World Cup in three years when six to nine FIFA 2026 World Cup games are played at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

But how did we get here? How did the City of Fountains, with a population of barely 500,000 people and fewer than 2.4 million in the metropolitan area, earn the right to welcome the world to the globe’s largest and most-viewed sporting event?

KSHB 41 sat down with the two women behind the bid, Kathy Nelson and Katherine Holland with the Kansas City Sports Commission, as well as KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas and Sporting Kansas City CEO Jake Reid to answer that question.

All four were instrumental in hatching the bold idea and then impressing FIFA evaluators to stun the world a year ago by becoming one of 16 North American cities picked to host games when the U.S., Mexico and Canada jointly host the next men’s World Cup.

Those involved in the bid knew Kansas City was an underdog, but they attacked the bid with passion, spunk and a keen eye for detail, turning it into a regional bid that would grow the game throughout the Midwest and not just in the Soccer Capital of America.

Still, as FIFA’s delegation made its way around the country for site visits, there was a moment that stood out, forever tipping the scales in Kansas City’s favor and all but ensuring its selection.

Our half-hour special, “Welcoming the World: How Kansas City Became a Host City,” examines what went into the city’s successful bid from the people who made it happen.

"Welcoming the World" debuted at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18. It will reair at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 30, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13.