Denver to begin virtual pitch for consideration as World Cup 2026 host city – The Denver Post

Denver to begin virtual pitch for consideration as World Cup 2026 host city – The Denver Post


Denver’s path to hosting World Cup 2026 games at Mile High takes a major step forward this week as FIFA narrows its venue selection process across Canada, the United States and Mexico.

“It’s an opportunity for us to get to know the cities better, to get to know the stadiums, and enter into more details,” said Colin Smith, FIFA chief tournaments and events officer. “Six years seems like a long time. It’s really not. We’re certainly impatient to get moving on this journey together.”

Seventeen U.S. cities — Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C. — are in contention for 10 host sites. Final selections were initially expected in the spring of 2021, Smith said, but the coronavirus pandemic has since moved the timetable back with delayed “inspection visits” of potential game locations.

The next phase of FIFA’s selection process continues Tuesday with a virtual “candidate host city workshop” followed by one-on-one sessions with officials from each city in the coming weeks.

Denver’s push for World Cup status began last July when mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis joined local soccer advocates outside of Mile High to rally public support. They pitched Denver’s reputation as a rising soccer hotbed with the travel, hotel, and stadium infrastructure to accommodate massive crowds. More details can be found at Denver2026.com.

The lighting system at Mile High was recently updated from outdated metal halide bulbs to FIFA-approved LEDs with more improvements expected to bolster its World Cup credibility. The stadium also hosted CONCACAF Gold Cup matches in 2019.

Denver’s advantage in the selection process might be geography, as Gov. Polis previously noted: “We’re the only city in the American mountain west competing for the games.” However, FIFA suggested that location does not guarantee any city’s selection.

“We look at the full picture; the location, roads, airports, hotels, transport concepts, mobility concepts, human rights, sustainability and stakeholder engagement,” Smith said. “Part of that is looking at, what does a host city want to achieve? What can this World Cup bring to them?”

The Denver Sports Commission was unable to give specific details Monday about its planned virtual meetings with FIFA, but provided The Post with a statement.

“We are thrilled to be a host city candidate for 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer matches, and we are excited to get further direction from FIFA on next steps in the host city selection process,” said Manny Rodriquez, co-chair of the Denver 2026 bid committee. “We are ready to demonstrate we have the experience, the facilities and the fan support to host the world in Denver.”



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