Kansas City’s chances to host a World Cup match took a notable step forward Wednesday.
Arrowhead Stadium remains in the mix to house 2026 World Cup matches, even after the list of potential host sites was trimmed by the Unified Bid Committee, which represents a joint effort from the United States, Canada and Mexico to win the rights to the tournament.
The North American bid is considered the overwhelming favorite to be selected to host the 2026 World Cup, but it won’t learn that for certain until summer 2018.
The UBC unveiled a list of 32 potential sites for the event, 25 of which are in the United States, with four in Canada and three in Mexico. It’s believed that somewhere around a dozen U.S. cities would host matches, though that has not been announced or finalized.
“As we move on to the next stage of the bid process, we’re even more confident we have everything needed to deliver the largest, most compelling FIFA World Cup in history and help accelerate the growth of soccer across North America and around the world,” said Sunil Gulati, the chairman for the UBC and the president of U.S. Soccer.
The 32 finalists will meet with the UBC in Houston on Nov. 1 to further gauge their integration into the overall bid’s strategy. The final selections will take into account “various factors such as city profile, stadium and support facilities and services,” per a press release announcing the news.
Kansas City made its case last month in New York City, when Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman and team president Jake Reid officially submitted the city’s bid. They centered it around the term “unity,” furthering a mission outlined by the UBC.
"With our national reputation with U.S. Soccer, MLS and soccer enthusiasts, Kansas City certainly has put a good stake in the ground,” Reid told The Star last month. “I think we like our chances as much as anyone.”
Chiefs owner CEO Clark Hunt and Sporting KC principal owner Cliff Illig are listed as the co-chairmen of the Kansas City application. The effort to bring World Cup matches also includes the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation, along with the Royals, FC Kansas City and the mayors and city managers from both sides of the state line.
Kathy Nelson, the Kansas City Sports Commission president, estimated World Cup matches would infuse more than $500 million into the local economy.
"This would be much larger than anything we've ever hosted," Nelson told The Star last month. "As busy as our city is, we haven't done anything to the scale of what could happen if we're awarded World Cup matches."