Cities that will be awarded games for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America will be identified on June 16. And Kansas City has high hopes for being one of the chosen few.
FIFA provided that date on Friday, and the unveiling in New York will bring to a conclusion a bidding process that has endured for years. In the first World Cup shared by three hosts — the U.S., Canada and Mexico — no fewer than 22 candidates to become host cities have angled to stage matches in the international tournament.
Sixteen of those cities are in the U.S., and 10 or 11 of those cities are expected to be selected. More games — 60 — will be played in the U.S. than in the other countries.
The U.S. cities bidding for games: Kansas City, Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC/Baltimore. The Los Angeles bid includes two venues, the Rose Bowl and SoFi Stadium.
Cities bidding in Canada include Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Mexico’s bid cities are Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.
In terms of local audience, Kansas City is among the smaller metropolitan areas bidding for the world’s largest sporting event. But the region put on a good show during FIFA officials’ site visit here in October.
The group toured Arrowhead Stadium, where games would be played, as well as the Compass Minerals National Performance Center (the training facility near Children’s Mercy Park in KCK) and other venues that would be used for practice.
A city could be selected as a training center for some of the participating countries’ teams without being selected as a host city for actual games.
Kansas City also would provide fan festival space for tens of thousands of visitors. If KC is selected, it likely would be awarded group-stage games, not knockout (or elimination) matches. The opening game is expected to be played at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium or the Rose Bowl.
The Chiefs and Sporting KC have been heavily involved in the bid process, and some current and former pro athletes from the area — such as Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, Royals star Salvador Perez and retired Sporting KC star and U.S. National Team veteran Matt Besler — have promoted Kansas City as a World Cup site.