Kansas, Missouri officials tout nonprofit to oversee 2026 World Cup preparations

Local and state elected officials, civic leaders gather at Arrowhead Stadium for announcement

By: - May 18, 2023 2:30 pm

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly lauds efforts to bring 2026 FIFA World Cup games to Kansas City in remarks at Arrowhead Stadium. Officials announced Thursday that a nonprofit would oversee preparations. (Allison Kite/Kansas Reflector)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A nonprofit governed by civic leaders and politicians from Kansas and Missouri will oversee preparations for Kansas City to host part of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, officials announced Thursday.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas joined civic leaders at Arrowhead Stadium to announce the formation of KC2026.

The nonprofit, chaired by Lucas, will be governed by a board “responsible for overseeing KC2026 and ensuring Kansas City’s success as a World Cup host city,” said Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission.

“But please know these names are just not it,” Nelson said. “A lot of you, if not all of you in the room, will be called upon to help us serve as we move forward.”

Kansas City won a longshot bid to be one of the 16 North American cities to host games as part of the 2026 World Cup. Both Kansas and Missouri will spend millions to upgrade Children’s Mercy Park and Arrowhead Stadium for the event.

Kansas City Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt noted the city was an underdog compared with larger cities that bid to host World Cup games.

“But as we all know, this is a city that finds ways to get things done,” Hunt said, calling it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

Parson, too, acknowledged the larger cities that sought to host the World Cup, but he said “nobody has a bigger heart than Kansas City, Missouri.” He said “we will not leave anything on the table” and “make this the best event the world has ever seen.”

Parson, Kelly and Lucas lauded efforts to bring games to Kansas City and funding committed by both states. 

Lucas said the World Cup would illustrate that Kansas City is not only the soccer capital of America, “but Kansas City is the sports, cultural, business heart of America.”

Lucas also announced he’ll establish a mayor’s commission for new Americans to ensure immigrant communities are included in business and cultural opportunities. He said the city will request proposals to increase public transportation between Kansas City International Airport and the core of the city.

In his remarks, Parson joked that Missouri was only one signature — his own — away from committing $50 million for upgrades at Arrowhead.

“I’ve got on pretty good authority you’re in really good shape for that, for us to be able to present you $50 million,” Parson said to applause. 

He encouraged Kelly to follow suit, but Kelly replied that she had already signed legislation committing Kansas to spend $10 million at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. 

“This was a bi-state effort, and I couldn’t be prouder that the KC metro region has been selected alongside an elite group of cities in North America to host what will be the largest World Cup ever,” Kelly said. 

Kelly said people from all over the world will soon see what the region has to offer and noted the potential for huge economic benefit from hosting soccer fans. She said Kansas is “decorated with orange cones” as the state upgrades infrastructure in preparation.

She said it was an exciting time to be a Kansas City sports fan, noting the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victories and the NFL draft. 

“If anybody has a direct line to Patrick Mahomes, would you tell him that I do not appreciate the fact that the governor of Kentucky has shaken his hand and I have not?” Kelly said. 

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Allison Kite
Allison Kite

Allison Kite is a data reporter for The Missouri Independent and Kansas Reflector, with a focus on the environment and agriculture. A graduate of the University of Kansas, she’s covered state government in both Topeka and Jefferson City, and most recently was City Hall reporter for The Kansas City Star.