Kansas City earned its 2026 FIFA World Cup bid

Jun 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Radio personality Nate Bukaty waves the American flag during a watch party for the announcement of the FIFA World Cup 2026 host cities at Power & Light District. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Radio personality Nate Bukaty waves the American flag during a watch party for the announcement of the FIFA World Cup 2026 host cities at Power & Light District. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

June 16, 2022, is a special day in Kansas City history. Although the rumors were already out there, it became official late Thursday afternoon that Kansas City would be a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be played at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City and the people in this town deserve this.

When it comes to college sports, there is a strong contingency of Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, and Missouri Tigers fans in the Kansas City area. KU basketball has been the only team in the area that has been consistently good.

The professional sports scene in this town has not had the strongest presence historically. That gradually improved over the last 15 years. It’s important to look back at the past 15 years and what’s happened to this town because these changes played a big hand in making Kansas City a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

After years of having a quiet sports scene, Kansas City has improved on its sports scene over the past 15 years, earning its 2026 FIFA World Cup bid.

The T-Mobile Center, formerly known as the Sprint Center, opened in 2007. There was some talk about an NHL and/or an NBA team coming to Kansas City’s new arena at the time it was being built. The closest that ever came to being a reality was back in 2006 when the Pittsburgh Penguins were exploring other options but decided to stay in Pittsburgh. Although the arena has yet to have a major sports tenant, it has been recognized as one of the busiest arenas in the United States since 2010.

Despite no major sports tenants, the arena has been home to the Big 12 Tournament every year since 2010. The NCAA tournament has been to T-Mobile Center four times, twice for early/sub-regional rounds and twice for regionals, and will host regionals again in 2023.

Across the street from the T-Mobile Center is the Power & Light District, which first opened in late 2007. The venue received national attention for World Cup watch parties in 2010 and 2014 to support team USA. The venue was put on the map again in 2014 and 2015 for World Series watch parties supporting the Kansas City Royals. The PNL District has also attracted a lot of fans every year in March for the Big 12 tournament as well as NCAA tournament games when selected.

In November of 2010, the Kansas City Wizards rebranded and became Sporting Kansas City ahead of the opening of the team’s brand new stadium. The rebrand and new stadium brought a European style of soccer to Kansas City. The city was selected to host the 2012 MLB All-Star Game and the 2013 MLS All-Star Game. In less than a year, Kansas City will host the 2023 NFL Draft.

Within the last 10 years, the Chiefs, Royals, and Sporting KC have all won a championship. The Guinness World Records awarded Kansas City as the loudest stadium in the NFL in 2013 and took the record back from Seattle in 2014. The Kansas City Current is currently planning a new stadium, which will be the first home facility for the National Women’s Soccer League. Additions like the downtown streetcar and soon the new airport likely played a role in helping Kansas City earn FIFA World Cup games for 2026.

The culmination of events over the last 15 years has helped Kansas City get to this point. The sports scene has come a long way. It was very quiet 15 years ago and is now one of the best in the United States.

In 104-degree humidity, fans packed the PNL District on Thursday for the official announcement of the host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The fans who attended were not disappointed as they got to celebrate Kansas City landing the World Cup.

Kansas City can now showcase its passion for sports, barbeque, the fountains, Liberty Memorial, the Country Club Plaza, and more for the entire world to see. Kansas City will be a destination spot for many international soccer fans during the 2026 FIFA World Cup. While a Super Bowl is huge for a city, the FIFA World Cup is typically a month-long event and can attract a big crowd for a longer period of time.

Kansas City has been labeled as “flyover country.” Now, it’s time for people to give Kansas City the respect it deserves. The Hunt family, Sporting KC’s ownership, the Kansas City Sports Commission, and the politicians involved deserve a lot of credit for helping bring World Cup games to Kansas City. The city is very deserving of this, especially after everything it has done to improve and grow in the past 15 years.

From this point, Kansas City must build off this historic moment and use this as momentum to receive a Super Bowl (especially if they get a new stadium), as well as an NBA and an NHL team.

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