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Kansas City will need better public transportation before the 2026 FIFA World Cup

People standing on a stage wearing soccer scarves
Chris Fortune
KCUR 89.3
State and local government officials gathered on Thursday to talk about preparations for the World Cup in 2026.

Come summer of 2026, Kansas Citians will see an influx of tourists for six FIFA World Cup games scheduled to be played in the metro. Now that the city knows which games it's hosting, KC2026 can begin more detailed planning for the event, including how to address public transit needs.

Kansas City now knows it will host six of the 2026 World Cup matches, one of which will be a quarterfinal match.

"Any matches would have been tremendous, but obviously being amongst Boston, L.A. and Miami as a quarterfinal host is pretty spectacular," said Katherine Holland, executive director of KC2026.

Behind-the-scenes planning and meetings have been taking place ever since Kansas City won its bid to be a host city. It's the smallest of 16 cities to take part in the North American bid.

But Holland told KCUR's Up To Date, "This announcement really will catapult us into the next phase of planning."

Strategic planning for security, human rights and sustainability are all top of mind for KC2026 officials. But because Kansas City has a less robust public transit system than some of the other U.S. host cities, Holland says organizers are planning for a temporary transit system capable of supporting the massive event.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is working to design a "playbook" for small businesses to prepare for the massive influx of visitors.

"They're not just going to be here for one or two days. They're going to be here for several days and they're going to want to see what the city is all about, what this region is all about," said Joe Reardon, a KC2026 board member and president of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

"We're the smallest city that's going to host — and think about it in those quarterfinals, the world already knows Miami, they know L.A. they know these other cities — they have yet to explore and understand Kansas City. It's going to be our time to shine."

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