Arrowhead Stadium - and Kansas City as a whole - has a chance to be featured on the international stage in the coming years.
A joint bid between the United States, Canada and Mexico earned the right to host the 2026 World Cup on Wednesday morning, with Arrowhead standing as one of 23 sites – 17 of which are in the United States - that could potentially host matches.
“This has been no small feat. It’s been months and months – almost years and years – of working together to be eligible for the next step in this process,” said Chiefs President Mark Donovan. “The vision of [Chiefs Founder] Lamar Hunt, the commitment of the Jackson County taxpayers and the support of the millions of fans that have walked through these walls have created an iconic venue that is internationally recognized. Because of that, we have the ability to bring events like this to this region and into this town.”
The 2026 World Cup will be the first to include 48 teams – an expansion from the current format’s 32. It will also mark the first time that the event will take place in three different countries, with 60 of the 80 matches occurring in the United States.
The U.S. last hosted the World Cup in 1994, the most recent occurrence among all three countries involved in the bid. Lamar Hunt’s leadership was integral to bringing that event stateside over two decades ago, and the Chiefs’ involvement this time around serves as yet another extension of his legacy.
“The Hunt family, the Chiefs organization and our Arrowhead Events division have put an emphasis on bringing the biggest and the best events to Arrowhead,” Donovan said. “That starts with Lamar. When he built this building, his dream was that this would become a mecca of the best in sports. This bid clearly fits that mission.”
Kansas City’s inclusion in the bid was made possible through the collaboration of the Chiefs, Sporting Kansas City and both local and state governments from Missouri and Kansas.
“Locally, we’ve had an incredible cooperation between two sports teams, two states and two cities for well over a year while creating our bid,” said Kathy Nelson, President and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission. “This creates an extraordinary opportunity to show millions and millions of people that we are a world class region with exceptional venues and passionate soccer fans.”
FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, will narrow the list of game sites in 2020. Kansas City will still play a role in the event even if games aren’t played in town, but the goal is for Arrowhead to emerge as one of the handful of venues that will draw the attention of the world with actual matches.
“Our work really starts now in promoting Kansas City,” Nelson said. “Our work over the past year has been about getting across this finish line, and now it becomes somewhat of a competition again where it’s us against these other cities with the goal being to host a match.”
It’s a challenge that the Chiefs are looking forward to in the push to bring the World Cup to Arrowhead in eight years.
“The last legacy that Lamar left us with it that we need to be an active participant in this community…to be a part of it,” Donovan said. “If we can (help) bring the World Cup to the region because we built Arrowhead, we’re going to take every advantage of that.”