Fans rallied in near-triple-digit heat Thursday in the heart of Kansas City as the region scored a longtime goal: earning a spot on the roster of 16 host cities for the coming 2026 FIFA World Cup.
“To be named a host city for not only the biggest single sport event in history, but as part of the most competitive selection process FIFA has ever facilitated is an incredible accomplishment for our city, our bid committee and everyone involved,” said Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC, which helped lead the bid for 2026 alongside a bi-state group of regional leaders.
“This is an important milestone in our work to make Kansas City an international destination for sports tourism and I could not be more proud,” she continued.
The Kansas City portion of the 2026 international men’s football championship games are expected to be played at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We got the World Cup! The city is gonna show out in 2026,” said Patrick Mahomes, quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, in a recorded message released during Thursday’s live announcement. “We can’t wait to welcome fans from across the globe to the heart of America and to the world’s loudest stadium.”
“We’re thrilled at the news! The games will bring in thousands of international visits and be a real boon to our regional economy. Thanks to Kathy Nelson of the Sports Commission and Katherine Holland, chair of the World Cup Committee, for their leadership and successful efforts in winning this bid. Now the next phase of hard work begins!”
— The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
Sixteen host cities were announced Thursday as eager Kansas Citians gathered at an official watch party in the KC Live! Block at Power & Light in downtown Kansas City. It’s the first year for the games to be played across three North American countries: the United States, Canada, and Mexico. (The trio of nations were announced as hosts in 2018 and 22 host city candidates ultimately emerged as finalists.)
It’s the first time the men’s World Cup has been played in North America since 1994.
Check out a photo gallery from Kansas City’s watch party at the bottom of this story.
2026 World Cup
Held every four years, the FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious and most widely viewed single sporting event. In 2018, a combined 3.572 billion viewers watched the World Cup and an estimated 6.8 million tourists visited host cities. The FIFA World Cup 2026, which will feature a record 80 matches, will be the first hosted by three countries and the first with 48 participating nations. Host cities can expect up to $620 million in incremental economic activity as a result of World Cup matches according to a study.
Kansas City joins Dallas, Atlanta, and Houston, along with Monterrey and Mexico City, as host cities in the games’ central region.
The east region includes Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, and New York/New Jersey; the west features Vancouver, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Guadalajara.
Forty-eight teams have been invited to compete in the 2026 World Cup.
“More fans than ever before will be able to watch their team on sports’ biggest stage,” said Ana Jurka, Telemundo Deportes, during the World Cup announcement.
The bid process, which began in 2017 with 44 total candidate cities, culminated Thursday with the celebration at Power & Light District. A delegation representing Kansas City’s local organizing committee will travel to New York this weekend to participate in host city workshops as preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2026 enter the highly anticipated next phase of planning, according to the Kansas City Sports Commission.
“Our team effort to bring the 2026 World Cup to Kansas City has culminated in today’s success as we prepare to be one of few American cities selected to host the largest sporting event in the world,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas in a press release. “The World Cup will bring jobs to our residents, will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for our region, and will illustrate on a global stage what we’ve known for some time: Kansas City is the soccer capital of America. I can’t wait to welcome the world to Kansas City.”