In a three-year span, Kansas City will make history with high-profile soccer coming to the midwest city. Kansas City is one of eight venues to host both the Copa America in 2024 and the World Cup in 2026. At the same time, it has the privilege of hosting Inter Miami at Arrowhead Stadium this April in a Major League Soccer game against Sporting Kansas City.

Katherine Holland is the executive director of KC2026, the nonprofit overseeing host city duties for the World Cup in Kansas City. Holland recently spoke to World Soccer Talk about the preparations for the World Cup and the potential benefits for Kansas City. It all starts with Arrowhead Stadium, which provides a world-class venue to host teams during the World Cup.

The traditional home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs is the crux of the operation. Children’s Mercy Park, home of Sporting Kansas City, is one of the three MLS-specific venues hosting games in the Copa America. However, the much-anticipated USA versus Uruguay game is at Arrowhead, which has over quadruple the capacity of the MLS arena.

Bringing benefits to Kansas City and the World Cup

Each of the 16 venues for the World Cup is already built. Arrowhead is not a new venue. Nor will it need extensive testing to see how well the stadium can host thousands of fans. The 2026 World Cup is the first in over 20 years to not have any new stadium construction. In the past, host countries and cities spent millions, if not billions, on new stadiums. That has plunged those areas into financial turmoil.

For Kansas City, the goal for profit is clearer. While Holland did not provide a specific number, the side already has projections on Kansas and Missouri’s benefits. Those largely depend on the schedules from FIFA. As Holland called them, those are the lynchpin for Kansas City’s success in 2026.

“It is an incredible opportunity for Kansas and Missouri to show off in a way that we have not necessarily been afforded that opportunity in the past,” Holland said. “It is easy to understand why someone might vacation in Los Angeles or New York/New Jersey. Maybe Kansas City and our region was not a destination. It is certainly more at the top of mind now.”

Having people visit from across the world could have long-term economic impacts on the area. Hotels, airfare, restaurants and other means of tourism-based income will benefit from the World Cup. Those projections will still take some time to formulate.

The ‘Soccer Capital of America’

Regardless of the games coming to Kansas City, the city has a reputation as an energetic area when it comes to soccer. Think back to previous World Cups and fan reactions to the USMNT. KC Live! is a shopping and event area where fans regularly meet up to watch the biggest games. During its bidding process to be a host city, FIFA officials visited the area. It provides an insight into the passion the city can provide.

“Being the soccer capital of America is not just a marketing tagline,” explained Holland. “We really do demonstrate that passion whether it be through investment in the game or providing spaces and opportunities for fans to gather and celebrate the sport together, which resonates for fans outside our market.”

Competing teams can also benefit from Kansas City

Kansas City also has a benefit that no other host venue has: Location. Kansas City is close to the geographic center of the contiguous United States. Holland added that it is less than a four-hour flight to any of the other 15 host cities. That affords some options for teams looking to establish base camps.

“What people do not often talk about is team base camps. We are in a great position regionally to be a real destination for potentially multiple federations to sort of call Kansas City in our region home during that tournament. That makes us a lucrative spot for federations. We understand that due to the caliber of our facilities, we’ll likely garner interest from a major soccer powerhouse that would have the funds.”

Kansas City is a regular host of competitive games involving the USMNT. It hosted a pair of World Cup qualifying games in the 2014 cycle. It also hosted 11 games at four Gold Cups. However, Arrowhead Stadium is far more used to American football and the Kansas City Chiefs.

If it can create a similar atmosphere as the Chiefs, which have hosted the last five AFC Championship games, Kansas City could be a memorable host venue for the World Cup.