Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and representatives of the Colorado Soccer Association, the Colorado Rapids, and the Denver Sports Commission (plus a few fans) came to Mile High Stadium yesterday to discuss football—but we’re not talking about the NFL.
The press conference was held to announce the launch of an organized effort to get Denver as a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Denver is currently in the running as a finalist, along with several other cities across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
Nate Shotts, CEO of the Colorado Soccer Association, told the crowd: “We already have the world-class stadium and an electrifying city that World Cup organizers want to see. The next step is to provide resources for our city, state and region to express support and enthusiasm by visiting our website, posting on social media and voicing a level of excitement that will ensure organizers and the world know that Denver is ready to be a host.”
Denver regularly hosts international soccer events at Mile High Stadium, most recently the Concacaf Gold Cup match between Mexico and Canada. The event drew a crowd of more than 52,000, leading Concacaf’s Chief of Football Officer Manolo Zubiria to say “Denver for us for the Gold Cup and for CONCACAF, it’s worked great... and if it works for the Gold Cup, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for the World Cup.”
“It’s more than just a stadium,” he explained. “It’s training facilities, hotels, airports, public transportation to get to venues, and the quality of the field, the stadium itself, and everything that it has to offer … not just in Denver, but everything nearby.”
Colorado Rapids Executive Vice President & General Manager Padraig Smith also spoke at the event, saying that “events like the World Cup leave their mark on a community.” He mentioned the impact of the event on kids and young soccer players, calling it “an inspiration to our youth.” Smith spoke about some of the major games that have been held in Denver, from U.S. Men’s National Team to U.S. Women’s National Team friendlies to the upcoming Arsenal match, as proof that Denver not only has the resources to host these games but the fan support.
“We have a legacy of playing these games here and we have the ability to play these games here,” he said. “Ultimately Colorado shows up for again and again for soccer and we at the Colorado Rapids are incredibly proud to be a part of this great soccer community here in Denver and in Colorado. We are fully supportive of this bid to bring the FIFA World Cup to Denver in 2026.”
Watch the entire press conference here. Smith comes to the podium around 11 minutes in.
Besides the events that have been held in Denver in the past, Dr. Bob Contiguglia is co-chair of the Denver 2026 Bid Committee, which gives our city a competitive advantage. Continguglia is very well-connected within the soccer community and was president of U.S. Soccer from 1998-2006. He is currently on the Board of Directors for U.S. Soccer and we are lucky that he calls Denver home.
Learn more about the 2026 bid and how to get involved at Denver2026.com. FIFA is expected to announce the 10 host cities by the end of 2021. It is estimated that cities can expect up to $360 million in economic impact as a result of hosting the World Cup.