World Cup

Denver 2026: The Mile High City Wants World Cup Soccer

Where will you be seven years from now? Hopefully, by the time July 2026 rolls around, you’ll be in your seat at Broncos Stadium watching intently as two countries play the beautiful game in the world’s most coveted tournament: The World Cup. On July 11th, a coalition came together to reveal the plans for Denver’s bid to host World Cup matches. The coalition features Governor Jared Polis, Mayor Michael Hancock, Colorado Soccer Association President Nate Shotts, Committee co-chair Bob Contiguglia, Executive Director of the Denver Sports Commission Matthew Payne, and the Colorado Rapid’s own Executive Vice President and General Manager Padraig Smith. This coalition will look to make the case to FIFA why their city should host the World Cup.

Canada, Mexico, and the United States joint bid to host the World Cup leaves them with games to divvy up and spread across the continent. Canada and Mexico will have three cities each to host while the United States will have ten for a total of sixteen host cities. Currently, there are seventeen potential host cities but only ten will ultimately make the cut. Denver, among those potential cities, has a pretty strong case already.

Michael Hancock, Mayor of Denver, fully sees just how qualified and equipped the city is to host the World Cup. He references the Gold Cup game in which 55,000 fans in attendance witnessed Mexico versus Canada as a case for why Denver should host more of these global events. Hancock claims that Denver is tested and proven and that they can do this. As mentioned before, the World Cup is still seven years out and there’s plenty of time between then to keep fostering the growth of the sport in Denver. When asked about how the city will continue to grow the sport, he mentions that an event like this further improves the commitment to open space and soccer fields.

Hancock also boasts about Denver having the number one ranked airport in all of the United States and ends by saying that Denver “checks all the boxes: We make it reliable, convenient, and easy for folks to get here.” Matthew Payne believes firmly in the notion that if the World Cup were to happen tomorrow that Denver would be able to host with no doubts. He believes that with a strong infrastructure and World Class stadium, there’s no reason to believe that Denver wouldn’t be able to host an event like this. Payne also notes that the committee to bring world Cup matches  is still being formed and still being curated. With the help of Government leaders and officials within the executive soccer world, the bid and committee needs all the support it can get. Former US Soccer President Bob Contiguglia will look to bring his experience in organizing World Cups and various other international competitions to the bid process. He as co-chair revealed that a bid like this could cost around 30-50 million dollars. When asked about the possibility of Denver hosting the final, he notes that the two biggest competitors, Los Angeles and New York, would be stiff competition but is ready to compete to secure the final if indeed Denver becomes a host city.

Overall, I wouldn’t be surprised if Denver becomes a host city. This is just a combined effort from those around Denver to make sure it happens. But, what happens to soccer as a sport if the bid fails? How will this coalition look to foster the growth of soccer in Denver? Ultimately, this bid to host World Cup Games provides Denver a huge opportunity to make serious amounts of money, but what is this coalition doing to further grow the sport? One could argue that Shotts and Smith have done plenty to improve the state of soccer in Colorado but where’s the ceiling? Can soccer ever reach the heights that the Denver Broncos are at?  (Probably not but that’s a discussion for a different article) The cynic in me sees this as a cash grab for the officials involved. It’s ultimately about money and not the sport itself. Not that there’s anything wrong with making this a business venture, I just wish there was a little more honesty about it rather than a campaign that dresses up the greed in a little bow tie.

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