The list of host cities for the next World Cup, to be held in the USA, Mexico and Canada, has recently been announced. One of them is Kansas City. The perspective of hosting teams and fans from all over the world has caused genuine joy among many of its residents. It’s true that other sports are still more popular in the USA, but 'soccer' is consistently gaining more fans.
Soccer is getting big in the US
It has to be said that football/soccer is a very different thing in the USA than it was when the country hosted the world's best teams last time, in 1994. Soccer has become the fourth most popular sport in the US, overtaking ice hockey. New teams are being formed, new facilities are being planned (like the one in... Kansas City as we just recently reported). As the sport grows, new challenges arise too, such as those posed by hosting the 2026 World Cup.
The first venue known to be undergoing an upgrade for the 2026 event is the 76,416-capacity Arrowhead Stadium. With an especially shapely form, this stadium is one significant arenas in the world of American sport. The Kansas City Chiefs, one of the recent NFL champions, play their home games here.
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The team has been playing at the venue since 1972, but the stadium’s lease expires in 2031. As a result, speculation has begun about the Chiefs moving to a new arena. In March, team president Mark Donovan said that various options were being considered: maybe, on the site of the current one, a new stadium would be built. But maybe, a major renovation instead, would turn out to be enough for Arrowhead.
Kansas City will not avoid the expenses
So far, it is certain that the stadium will have to undergo at least some upgrades before 2026. However, no one knows how much it will cost or who will cover the costs. According to Kansas Chiefs officials, it is too early to make financial projections related to the World Cup.
However, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas claims that specific amounts can already be discussed and that the city anticipates an expenditure of $50 million. Lucas also expects additional funding in public transport to better connect the stadium to the rest of the city. According to him, this is something Arrowhead Stadium is certainly lacking. Such an investment could also be key to getting the Chiefs to stay at their current venue.
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Critics of the Kansas City authorities respond that the $50 million estimate is too low. Toronto, for example, will spend around $290 million including expenditures to adapt the city-owned BMO Field to host the world's premier football event. Another example of what might be necessary to do is that of 1994, when in Foxborough Stadium in the Boston metropolitan area, elements of the stands near the corners of the field were removed with jackhammers. It was done in order to accommodate additional security and media personnel.
Indeed, in the case of Arrowhead Stadium, it is already certain that some rows of seats will have to be removed as the pitch has to meet FIFA standards. Among other changes awaiting the Kansas City venue is the installation of turnstiles at the entrance gates.
The Chiefs team president Mark Donovan, mentioned before, has acknowledged that these 2026 World Cup-related investments will play an important role in the discussion about what's next for the team and Arrowhead Stadium. For now, though, he says he is focused on the upcoming NFL season and getting everything ready for the 2026 World Cup.
© Mike Day