KANSAS CITY, MO — The World Cup will be coming to Kansas City in three short years, but international and national organizations based in KC are already planning for its arrival.
“We have a unique culture here in Kansas City. It can increase our tourism and that would be amazing, not only that but potentially dispel some some myths or some preconceived notions about what the middle of the country means,” explained Evan Verploegh, Executive Director of the International Relations Council.
The IRCis an organization in Kansas City that’s been around for more than 65 years. Its goal is to connect Kansas City with the world through educational programs, discussion groups, and youth programs. Verploegh says the IRC will be hosting a series on sports diplomacy and other events leading up to the FIFA World Cup.
“It's small events that can really change the course of someone's life, whether it's meeting someone from from another country being fortunate enough to take a trip,” said Verploegh. "So to have people in Kansas City and from other communities be surrounded by people who have entirely different backgrounds, who look different from them, who have different different stories to tell. I think what will come from that can only be good things, he added.”
United Soccer Coaches based in KC is also planning events around the World Cup and currently working with FIFA to make it happen. Brandon Milburn, Director of Strategic Growth at United Soccer Coaches says its hard to measure and predict how much of an impact the World Cup will have on Kansas City.
"I don't think we quite understand what's coming and what kind of economic impact this is going to have, especially when we look at it from an opportunity to grow the game for every one,” said Milburn.
While its hard to gauge what’s to come with the World Cup, Kansas City got a small taste after hosting the 2023 NFL Draft. However, Milburn thinks the hype and excitement will be different since soccer is a global pastime.
"It's gonna bring people from every corner of the world, I think it's gonna be much bigger,” said Millburn. "I think this was kind of a snapshot with the draft you know, but this is going to be a month long event of people coming in eating, experiencing our city.”
Meanwhile, Kansas Citians continue to countdown the days, and believe their Midwest charm will set them apart from other host cities.
“We are friendly, we are good people around here and hold doors, kinda funny but not a lot of folks don’t,” said David Mendez, soccer fan.
Verploegh points out, it’s that Midwest charm though that will leave soccer fans with a lasting impression of KC.
“Ultimately, we're very well educated, welcoming and a very tolerant place so I hope that that can come across and that reputation can carry forward into the future,” said Verploegh.