Denver’s in the running to be a World Cup 2026 host city

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Lafayette resident Nicholas Colgin sports a blue beard. The U.S. men’s national soccer team vs Trinidad and Tobago, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, June 8, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The World Cup is coming to North America again in 2026 for the first time since the mid '90s, which is exciting. What’s even more exciting is that Denver may be selected as one of the cities to host several of the games.

According to Luis Aguilar, manager of media relations for the Colorado Rapids, it will take a couple of years to find out if Denver is selected — those decisions won’t be made public until 2020 at the earliest.

Denver’s committee for the Fifa Bid highlighted that Denver has a long history of hosting sporting events. "The City has an excellent track record of being one of the country's most vibrant sports cities," the committee said in their proposal. Denver’s committee includes significant political figures like Gov. John Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael Hancock.

The idea of hosting a World Cup match has not garnered the criticism that other big ticket events have — like the city's possible Olympics bid. Larry Ambrose, who has been a vocal opponent of recruiting the Winter Olympic Games, personally doesn’t perceive the two events to be an apples-to-apples comparison. He isn't too familiar with the requirements the city would need to meet to host World Cup games but presumed it would not nearly be as intensive as the Winter Olympics.

“The Olympics involve a three-week massive security hike, they involve dedicating highway lanes to people. I’m guessing it’s a completely different kind of event,” said Ambrose. He also noted that his biggest concern with the Olympics is the financial risks involved that could fall at the feet of taxpayers, which may not be true for the World Cup as most of the infrastructure needed already exists.

Aguilar thinks it could have positive implications for soccer culture both in the country as a whole and specifically here in Denver. “Simply stated it would be huge, just for soccer in general in the U.S. but here in Denver, it's kind of a combined thing. It’d be good for everybody soccer fans and soccer academies, everybody,” said Aguilar.

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