What to know ahead of 2026 World Cup reveal on Thursday. Will Denver get the bid? – The Denver Post

After years of planning, pitching and preparing, the fate of Denver’s bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup is mere days from being decided.

Between the economic potential and the impressionable memories that could be made, Thursday could be one of the biggest days in Denver soccer history — if the city is among those selected to host games.

Here’s what to know.

The basics

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be held in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It will be the first men’s World Cup on American soil since 1994, and fourth all-time, including the 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cups.

There are 22 cities across North America vying to host games for the 48-team tournament, and the expectation is that 10 or 11 American cities will 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. If a city gets a bid, it could host up to five games.

When considering bids, location is not the only thing that matters. It comes down to each city’s readiness in areas such as accommodations, public transportation, sustainability, financial impact (upwards of a $360 million windfall, according to a Boston Consulting Group) and human rights legacy. That last part was added after FIFA made the controversial decision to award Qatar the bid for 2022. Denver’s 2026 bid team submitted a 100-point human rights strategy to FIFA in December.

Denver scored very well on the 2018 technical evaluations from FIFA , and the city’s central location could help its cause. The city also successfully hosted the 2021 CONCACAF Nations League tournament.

Empower Field Mile High underwent $8.3 million in renovations to help make a case to host significant games for the World Cup. Despite the Denver Broncos recently undergoing an ownership change, the Denver 2026 bid team said Friday that it should not affect the city’s efforts.

“We do not believe the Denver Broncos ownership will impact FIFA’s decision in any way,” a spokesperson said. “The Broncos and their stadium personnel have been strong partners in this effort, and we are confident that will continue.”

The other American cities in the final running are: Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC/Baltimore.

“In line with the previous stages of the FIFA World Cup 2026 selection process, any announcement will be made in the best interests of football, taking into consideration the needs of all stakeholders involved, as we aim to lay the foundations for the tournament to be delivered successfully across all three countries,” said FIFA Vice-President and Concacaf President Victor Montagliani in a statement.

Why does it matter?

The impact is more emotional than monetary, but seeing the amount of cash that could flow in certainly helps. Fans would come from all corners of the globe. And aside from watching soccer, they would get a chance to explore the Front Range and the rest of Colorado.

The 1994 and ’99 World Cups left a tangible impact on American sports fans, with MLS springing up soon after the men’s tournament in ’94 and the women’s game spiking in popularity after the ’99 tournament and Brandi Chastain’s iconic shootout winner.

What’s next?

The nervous waiting game until Thursday is already underway. Really, it’s all in FIFA’s hands. The reveal, which will be streamed online, will be announced in New York City starting at 3 p.m. MDT.

While other cities will have watch parties of their own, including at Philadelphia’s LOVE Park and Kansas City’s Power & Lights District, a local Denver 2026 committee member told The Post that there will only be a private watch for its bid team.

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