DENVER — The men's World Cup 2026 will be hosted by the U.S., along with Mexico and Canada, and Denver is hoping to be one of 10 cities selected for games.
City and state leaders on Thursday began the first steps in laying out plans to bring the 2026 Wold Cup games to the Mile High City, which is one of 23 cities hoping to bring the world's biggest soccer tournament to its backyard.
"I’ve been all over the world, and there’s no question in my mind that Denver has everything that’s necessary to host a successful World Cup," said bid committee co-chair and former U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia. "We have one of the best stadiums in the world, we have infrastructure with one of the best airports in the world, we have mass transit, and we have a sports friendly population.”
Contiguglia was joined by Governor Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock as well as several soccer executives from the professional and youth level for Thursday's press conference outside of Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
“There is no greater sport than futbol, and so to be able to bring the World Cup to Denver, I think demonstrates our global connectivity, our global competitiveness," Hancock said.
So what makes the City of Denver stand out?
According to Hancock, the city checks all the boxes.
"The ability to and willingness to invest in our transportation infrastructure and our hotel and hospitality industry, an airport we can bring in people from all over the world, and then when they get here to have the most walkable downtown," he said.
Denver has spent years gaining experience from hosting events like Gold Cup matches and the annual National Western Stock Show.
“I think one of the positive things here is we could host tomorrow, I feel strongly about that," added Executive Director of the Denver Sports Commission Matthew Payne.
Payne said the next step in this process is to continue to develop the committee and raise awareness for the city to gain a bid. But then there's the bottom line:
The cost to host an event like this is between $30 million to $50 million, something Contiguglia said is worth the pricetag.
"The income coming that we expect has been done by the Boston Consulting Group, and we expect an income of $360 million, so it’s a very good investment," Contiguglia said.
Payne added that "the only thing the citizens need to be worried about is just buying a ticket for the game.”
Once the committee has finalized plans for such things as traffic, security and transportation, they will make their case to the FIFA selection committee. A decision on the final 10 cities could come somewhere between late 2020 or early 2021, according to Payne.
FIFA highlights nine areas of criteria in the "successful hosting of a FIFA World Cup":
- Stadiums (35%)
- Transport (13%)
- Media and marketing revenues (10%)
- Ticketing and hospitality revenues (10%)
- Organizing costs (10%)
- IT&T and IBC (7%)
- Accommodation (6%).
- Teams and referees facilities (6%)
- FIFA Fan Fest (3%)
Scores were awarded on a sliding scale from 0-5, with 0 meaning "no requirements met/very weak" and a 5 meaning "requirements exceeded/excellent."
According to FIFA's bid evaluation report, Broncos Stadium at Mile High received the highest score out of the 23 potential venues, with a 4.4. The stadium seats 77,595 and has the capability to host at least a quarterfinal or 3rd place match.
Denver was given a 4.3 average for accommodation (tied for 7th) and a 4.0 for transportation (tied for 8th). The Mile High City was ranked last (3.1) for FIFA Fan Fest.
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