Denver jumps into run­ning to host World Cup games

About 23 cities con­sid­ered for 16 event lo­ca­tions.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Daniel Boni­face and Jon Mur­ray Dan Boni­face: 303-954-1104, dboni­face@ den­ver­ or @daniel­boni­face

The 2026 World Cup is of­fi­cially com­ing to the United States, Mex­ico and Canada, and a joint state­ment Wed­nes­day in­di­cates Denver will push to host matches in the qua­dren­nial in­ter­na­tional soc­cer tour­na­ment.

The United Bid on Wed­nes­day won FIFA ap­proval in a land­slide 134-65 vote, mark­ing the first time three na­tions will share the event.

A state­ment re­leased by the Colorado Rapids, the Denver Sports Com­mis­sion and the Sta­dium Man­age­ment Com­pany said Denver is among ap­prox­i­mately 23 cities in con­sid­er­a­tion to host World Cup games eight years from now. FIFA will select up to 16 cities for matches.

“Denver is a world-class city and soc­cer des­ti­na­tion,” the state­ment said. “And our his­tory of host­ing ex­tremely suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional soc­cer games and our en­thu­si­as­tic fan base gives us con­fi­dence that — if se­lected — Denver and the re­gion would be ex­cited to see the World Cup take place at the Denver Bron­cos’ sta­dium.”

“Way to go, North Amer­ica! So proud af­ter more than three decades,” Mayor Michael Han­cock said in a com­ment pro­vided through a spokes­woman. “We have a long road ahead be­fore we know what cities will be cho­sen to host. To­day is a day for cel­e­bra­tion.”

The pos­si­bil­i­ties ex­cited Denver City Coun­cil­man Paul D. López.

“If we can land the World Cup in Denver, Colorado, that’s a big deal,” he said. “Across racial lines, and cul­tural lines, there’s one sport — and that’s fút­bol.”

Denver was re­cently named a host city for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Stud­ies show that World Cup host cities can see an eco­nomic im­pact of up to $360 mil­lion, the state­ment said, though some economists ques­tion such pro­jec­tions.

The fi­nal North Amer­i­can host cities could be an­nounced as late as 2021, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

López, who counts him­self among the many soc­cer fans in heav­ily Latino west Denver, named sev­eral po­ten­tial matchups he’d love to see.

“Of course, if you have Selec­ción Na­cional from Mex­ico play­ing here, peo­ple are go­ing to lose their minds,” he said. “I would love to see a Team USAMex­ico match. I would love to see a Brazil-Ger­many match. I would love to see world-class teams com­pete in Denver.

“Here’s my thing,” he added. “If we do that, we have to do a good job of mak­ing sure that folks lo­cally can go to those games, the prac­tices, the qual­i­fiers — all of it.”

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