Lawrence designated as possible location to host international soccer team during 2026 World Cup

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Post updated at 5:04 p.m. Tuesday, May 23:

Lawrence may get to play a part in Kansas City’s soccer World Cup qualifying events in 2026 as the possible location of a base camp for an international team. 

A source familiar with Kansas City’s World Cup planning said Monday that facilities at the University of Kansas and Rock Chalk Park could be used as a team base camp if Lawrence is chosen as a site. 

Team base camps are used to help teams from participating nations set up and get acclimated to the new climate and culture prior to their first matches. The city hosts the team’s training and operations for the event. Each of the 48 teams that will play in the international event will choose a city to be their base camp. 

Kansas City is one of 11 American cities that will host games for the World Cup tournament. The matches will be played at Arrowhead Stadium.

Individual national teams get to select their own base camp locations, and it is not guaranteed that Lawrence will be chosen.

Katherine Holland, director of the KC2026 FIFA World Cup Bid, said on Tuesday that Lawrence and Rock Chalk Park were included as potential team base camp locations for Kansas City’s bid to host the World Cup.

Holland said she expects base camp decisions to begin in early 2024 and that they could continue up until the beginning of the tournament.

Many criteria go into the selection of a national team’s base camp, including geography, specific amenities and accommodations. 

KU is currently in the planning stages of a major overhaul of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and the surrounding area in an attempt to build a new “gateway to campus.” The renovated stadium could potentially be used to help host a team for the World Cup.

Kansas Athletics did not immediately respond to multiple emails and calls seeking comment for this story. 

Aside from Kansas City, other U.S. host cities include Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

In Canada, Toronto and Vancouver will be host cities, while Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey will host the event in Mexico.

The World Cup is slated to begin in the summer of 2026 with 104 matches played across North America. The finals will be held on July 19, 2026, at a North American location yet to be determined.

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Cuyler Dunn (he/him), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a student at the University of Kansas School of Journalism. He is a graduate of Lawrence High School where he was the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Budget, and was named the 2022 Kansas High School Journalist of the Year. Read more of his work for the Times here.

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