Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World Cup in KC

A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday we went to Oklahoma Joe's for lunch. As expected the line snaked almost out the door by the time we got there. While I was waiting in line, 7 or 8 guys dressed in Chargers gear came in and got in line. The Chargers were in town to beat the Chiefs that weekend. When I got to a point in the line where I could talk to the Chargers fans I asked if they were from San Diego. Of course they were so I told them that their KC research was about to pay off, because it doesn't get any better than Oklahoma Joe's. They wondered what they should order so I gave them my OJoe's tips (get something with pulled pork and split the fries). Through pure chance, they sat down at the next table over so I talked with them during lunch about how much I like the Chargers (I've had LT on my fantasy team since he was a rookie and I've had Phil Rivers and Vincent Jackson for 3 years now so I follow them closely) and what they should do in KC.

I love having new people in town because I love having conversations like that. While I like to make fun of KC's ability to turn a perfectly good property tax paying business downtown (where I got my tux for my wedding) into a financial boondoggle that bleeds all over the city's financial statements and other missteps such as a part of town with weekly sometimes daily homicides that no one (media, government, citizens) seem to care about. I also appreciate and love the fact that Kansas City has a lot to offer visitors, from great food and great beer to unique attractions and shopping. I lived half of my adult life in Wichita which has none of those things so I appreciate living someplace that does and sharing it with others.

Which brings me to last week when I got an invitation to go out to the Wizards' practice facility to see a presentation about bringing the World Cup to KC in 2018 or 2022. Soccer's World Cup is the world's premier sporting event. Some may say the Olympics hold that torch, but that's BS because no one gives a flip about rowing or swimming the other 3 years, they only minimally care about them in the olympiad. But soccer is the world's premier sport and the one more people on this planet are passionate about 365 days/year every year.

The US is bidding for the World Cup in 2018 and in 2022 and we have a great chance to get the World Cup in one of those years. Because of the number of games many sites are needed in the host country and Kansas City is one of the finalists to be a host site.

What does this mean for us? It means we get to host a one month party. It means we'll have an influx of soccer fans from around the world bringing with them their cultures, food and best of all beer. It means billions of people will see world class soccer played in Kansas City at Arrowhead. And best of all it means we will get all of this without spending (more than a negligible amount) a taxpayer dime. We're not going to get a better deal than that. We didn't get a deal like this from the Chiefs or the Royals, no they wanted to force you to spend your taxpayer dollars on their venue improvements (whether you voted for the new tax or not).

In addition to filling up Arrowhead for several World Cup games, the World Cup also requires venues for a FIFA Fan Fest. KC's organizers will use the Liberty memorial and possibly the Sprint Center to host this Fan Fest. There's nothing quite like these, you can see the Hamburg one in the video below.

This won't be just a one week event either, it will several weeks. As Doug Frost would say, we get great bang for our buck on this deal. All you need to do right now is sign a little World Cup petition. It's an official thing, not some weird petition you get from your liberal friend every other day. The World Cup people use this petition to make their decisions. We need to be #1 in signatories to assure KC will be a finalist so put down your beer and sign the thing and we'll have a party in 9 years.

If you want some additional information about the bid go to The Back Post, he has a wrapup of the presentation.


  1. Completely agree with this post. I already signed up. The one time I really love my job is when we have a client visit as I often end up as a guide to the city for them. I too often complain about KC but I truly love the place.

  2. Not only could we fill Arrowhead, we could also fill The K with people just to watch it on the Jumbo-Tron

  3. Even if you don't care about soccer (I do, but I think I'm in the minority), the impact of winning this is $300 - $500 Million coming in to the city. I think we can all get behind that.

  4. I see attracting the World Cup as beneficial, certainly, but I'll believe the aforementioned projections of 120,000 attendance (Kauffman + Arrowhead) and the economic influx numbers (which are always notoriously vague and inflated) when I see them.

    That said, enjoy the party. There will be one. I seriously doubt our draw will include the Argentinas and Frances of the world...but have you seen, say, Latvian women? I'll lobby for that.

  5. JJS, I don't think the attendance figures are inflated. I think they will sell out all the games. I do cast a skeptical eye to the economic influx numbers, but I don't think they matter that much since we're not building anything for the event or outlaying much taxpayer money. I don't endorse the $300-500 million influx number.

    It's impossible to predict what our draw would be. But, many teams would love to have their base camp in KC because we are in the middle of the country. It would allow them less travel and less time zone issues if they're located here for the month of the world cup. So we may very well have Brazil or Argentina training at Park University or KU for the duration of the tournament.