To grasp the full weight of what the 2026 World Cup could mean to Kansas City, consider this in the context of our beloved Chiefs.
American football is minuscule in terms of fan base when compared to the international frenzy for futbol, or as English speakers tend to say, soccer.
On Wednesday, Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium landed on the short list to host at least one match in the 2026 World Cup. In fact, Kansas City could host as many as five matches, and we might even land a quarterfinal game.
The governing board of international soccer picked a joint North American bid from Canada, the United States and Mexico for this, the largest sporting event in the world. And Kansas City was one of 17 U.S. locations that were included as potential host cities in the proposal.
Our geography is perfect for this three-country alliance, as Kansas City sits smack in the middle of the U.S. and comparable distances from both Mexico and Canada. Plus, Kansas City International Airport will have a new-and-improved terminal up and running long before the throngs of international soccer fans start arriving.
Kansas City should seize this opportunity. To its credit, the city showcased a strong sense of unity during a Wednesday press conference hosted by the Kansas City Sports Commission.
Already, civic and political leadership have joined forces, and those alliances can prove beneficial during this bidding process and beyond. But what will the Kansas City area be willing to leverage to gain rights to this international spotlight?
As much as it is a privilege to host a World Cup match — and a financial boon — leaders should approach this goal with enthusiasm tempered by a bit of caution. Kansas City shouldn't be willing to write a blank check to land a World Cup match, and a bidding war with other cities isn't a worthwhile endeavor.
The scale is like nothing we've ever attempted. Our failed bid for the 2016 Republican National Convention can serve as the start of a blueprint, one that will need to be expanded, updated and adapted for the international stage.
The financial costs and possible disruption for local residents could be staggering. Just consider the logistics involved, infrastructure required and the security needs of international travelers and global soccer stars.
But they’ll all need places to stay and eat and ways to get around. This will be nothing like a Sunday afternoon Chiefs game, when local fans spill out on Interstates 70 and 435 and return home in fairly short order.
But Kansas City is up to the challenge. And it's off to a strong start. Leaders from both sides of the state line will need to team up over the long term if Kansas City is going to score this "GOOOAALLL!"