Story and photos by Max Goodwin
Mayor Quinton Lucas announced steps the city is taking to support the 2026 World Cup hosted in Kansas City.
The World Cup is the most significant event hosted in the city’s history, and the event was attended by Missouri Governor Mike Parson and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, along with several local politicians and dignitaries.
Mayor Lucas announced the city is issuing an RFP (request for proposal) for transportation from the KCI airport to the city’s center and establishing the Mayor’s Commission for New Americans. Governors Parson and Kelly announced a $50 million investment from each state to support Kansas City in hosting the World Cup.
The distance between the airport and the center of the city and the stadiums was recognized as a problem that needed to be solved as Kansas City was announced as a host city. With just three years until the World Cup will be played at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, there is a short window of time for the city to get these projects planned and finished, but the World Cup presents an opportunity to build lasting improvements.
“Our goal here is to build something that lasts long beyond the World Cup,” Lucas said. “That would mean that we’re building up infrastructure that isn’t just for 2026, but long after. Faster routes from the airport to downtown, easier ways to get from Arrowhead Stadium to the city’s center. And more than anything, ways to make it permanent long term.”
Mayor Lucas noted that there is already a study being done on an east-west expansion of the streetcar along 39th Street Corridor from the state line out to Arrowhead Stadium.
“We’re also looking at enhanced fast bus rapid transit, particularly with that airport to downtown link. So there’s gonna be a lot of stuff that we’re trying to look at largely seeing who can be our allies as we build it up,” Lucas said.
The Mayor’s Commission for New Americans is to help support immigrants new to America be part of the business and commercial opportunities in the area, including those that come along with the World Cup.
FIFA has asked city and state officials how Kansas City and Missouri are strong from a human rights perspective, and this new commission is part of that answer.
“It is not just doing things that say that all are welcome, although we absolutely believe in that,” Lucas said. “It’s also ensuring that we’re actually welcoming people with our resources and connections.”
It is important to build more density downtown Lucas said after Governor Kelly had mentioned the issue during her speech. A big part of creating that density is specifically in creating more housing opportunities in the downtown area, Lucas said.
One critique heard by the city after the NFL Draft downtown was hosted last month was how to better engage local businesses that are outside the specific area. Hotel prices increased during the NFL Draft all around the Kansas City metro area.
“For the folks that are really big in athletics and sports here, soccer in particular, this is gonna be a great thing,” said Missouri State Representative Mark Sharp. “It’s the first time for many Kansas Citians to be on the stage this big. It doesn’t matter if you’re in south Kansas City or Northland. I think everybody can be proud.”