Why Denver Should Host The 2026 World Cup

On June 16, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will announce the 16 cities in North America that will host World Cup matches in 2026. In consideration are 15 U.S. cities or metro centers, as well as three in Mexico and three in Canada.

Among the cities vying to host 2026 World Cup matches is Denver, which has several factors in its favor, including the legality of sports betting in Colorado.

In 1994, the only time the Men’s FIFA World Cup was played in the U.S., Denver was a finalist to host matches but was not selected among the nine cities to do so. This time, the city has elevated its efforts to attract the event to the Mile High City.

What Makes Denver A Great Place For FIFA World Cup

Top Rated International Airport

Both the Wall Street Journal and Skytrax have ranked Denver International Airport as the best in the U.S. (2019 and 2018 respectively), with a world-class terminal and ample flights to service visitors from inside and outside the country. By 2026, the airport will have added 40 more gates.

Unique to the U.S., Denver offers free train service from its airport to downtown destinations.

Denver has nonstop flights to and from Tokyo, Paris, London, Reykjavik, Zurich, Panama City, and Calgary, and also services joining routes to/from Munich and Frankfurt, Germany.

Empower Field at Mile High

The home of the Denver Broncos is more than an (American) football stadium. It hosts hundreds of events every year and is considered one of the state-of-the-art sporting and entertainment venues in America.

Empower Field at Mile High can seat 76,125 fans and is accessible near downtown Denver. Spectators can reach it by car, public transportation (a dedicated light rail station is outside the stadium), or even walking from central downtown to the Sun Valley neighborhood, which hosts the venue.

By 2026, the venue will have upgraded its lighting to comply with FIFA standards, an effort made specifically to attract the World Cup.

Mature Legal Sports Betting Market

Colorado has had legal sports betting since May 1, 2020, and its market has grown into one of the strongest in the country. Fans can bet on dozens of sports, including most soccer leagues around the world.

Bettors age 21 or older can wager on sporting events taking place in the state or worldwide, with single-game bets and parlay bets available.

Other states up for hosting the FIFA World Cup do not have legal sports betting, such as California and Texas, most notably. While a sports betting market will not likely be the major determining factor, FIFA may wish to have some matches in states where betting is legal and fans will be excited to wager on the event while in attendance.

Wildly Popular Soccer Programs In The Region

The Colorado Soccer Association boasts several of the most popular and highly-attended tournaments in North America. There are, according to the Denver2026 website, more than 100,000 young people who compete in soccer in Colorado annually.

According to research by the Denver Chamber of Commerce and Denver2026, the region ranked first in the United States for viewership of the 2018 FIFA World Cup among the key adults 18-49 and 25-54 age groups, and second in the men 25-54 age group.. Simply put: Coloradans love soccer (err…football).

Mild Summer Weather And Central Location

Famous for its elevation (a mile above sea level), Denver is also known to get snow in the winter. But, in the summer months, the weather is mild. In June the average temperatures are 57 to 86 degrees, and in July, 61 to 91 degrees, with little precipitation.

Also, Colorado sits in the central section of the U.S., not far west of the geographic center of the country. That means matches would be scheduled at a time that would be convenient for fans to enjoy them on both coasts and across the country.

Which U.S. Cities Are Likely To Host The 2026 World Cup?

The U.S. cities/metro areas under consideration are Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C./Baltimore.

Experts speculate that either Los Angeles, Dallas, or New York will be awarded the final match for the 2026 World Cup. It typically boils down to seating, and LA’s SoFi Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl last February, accommodates more than 100,000 spectators. FIFA usually assigns the semifinal matches to different cities, which means the final three games would take place in three separate locales.

World Cup Host Countries

  • 1930 Uruguay
  • 1934 Italy
  • 1938 France
  • 1942 Cancelled because of World War II
  • 1946 Cancelled because of World War II
  • 1950 Brazil
  • 1954 Switzerland
  • 1958 Sweden
  • 1962 Chile
  • 1966 England
  • 1970 Mexico
  • 1974 West Germany
  • 1978 Argentina
  • 1982 Spain
  • 1986 Mexico
  • 1990 Italy
  • 1994 United States
  • 1998 France
  • 2002 Japan
  • South Korea
  • 2006 Germany
  • 2010 South Africa
  • 2014 Brazil
  • 2018 Russia
  • 2022 Qatar
  • 2026 Canada, Mexico, and the United States*

*Ten cities in the three countries will be selected to host matches.

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