If this involved NCAA basketball, we could claim to have made it to the Round of 32 in the Big Dance, but this is soccer–on a global scale. The FIFA World Cup United Bid Soccer Committee today announced that Kansas City was one of 32 cities in the Western Hemisphere being considered as host cities for the the 2026 World Cup Soccer tournament.
How big is that? If it happens here, this region could reap an economic impact of roughly $1 billion, thanks to tourism and a TV viewership that historically averages more than 250 million worldwide for a World Cup match, and more than 900 million for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final.
“This news confirms to the rest of the country what we already know here in the heartland, that the KC metro is worthy of being called the soccer capital of America,” said Mayor Mark Holland of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., in a release following the candidate-cities announcment. “As we move to the next round in the bid selection process, I know that we will have a strong case to make that Kansas City deserves to be a World Cup host.”
He noted that the region had invested more than $325-million in soccer facilities in the past decade, the Unified Government said, with $500 million more planned by 2026, and boasts world-class soccer faciliteis in Children’s Mercy Park in Wyandotte County and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
The Soccer United Bid Committee will submit the bid book to FIFA in March 2018. More than 40 cities from across Canada, Mexico and the United States submitted proposals to be considered as possible host cities, and of the 32 still standing, four are from Canada, three from Mexico and 25 from the United States.