FIFA World Cup bid: Denver misses out on hosting in 2026

Denver lost out on being a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, set to be played in cities across North America. The announcement was made Thursday.

Denver had planned to host games at Empower Field at Mile High had it been selected. Instead, it will sit on the sidelines as 10 American cities, two Canadian cities and three Mexican cities host games.

Cities awarded bids were Vancouver, Seattle, the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Guadalajara out west. Centrally, the region that Denver was in, the city lost out to Kansas City, Dallas, Atlanta, Monterrey and Mexico City. In the East region, Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and New York/New Jersey were winners.

Denver 2026 bid team leaders met at Tom’s Watch Bar in LoDo for a private watch party on Thursday ahead of the decision, which aired on national television. Confetti cannons were readied but ended up never being fired.

Key figures in the soccer community who were a part of the bid were in attendance, including Colorado Rapids general manager Pádraig Smith, Matthew Payne, the head of the Denver Sports Commission, and Colorado Soccer Association leaders. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and the Denver Broncos were also partners from the opening day of the bid. Since the start, it was 1,728 days since Denver began the bid process.

The bid, which was led by the Denver Sports Commission, budgeted to host the event at a cost of roughly $45 million, which was set to be privately funded.

There were 22 cities across North America vying to host games for the 48-team tournament, and the expectation was that 10 or 11 American cities would  be selected, as well as two in Canada and three in Mexico. A total of 60 games will be played in the U.S., while Canada and Mexico will get 10 each. The cities named as hosts could hold up to five games.

Denver hosted the CONCACAF Nations League last summer to show it was ready to host the World Cup. FIFA visited the city in October and has been in regular communication with every host city throughout the process.

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