Tuesday, January 10, 2023

FIFA World Cup

As some of you may know, in a past life, I was lucky enough to play soccer professionally. Some of my fondest memories as a child were waking up super early on Saturday morning to watch Serie A (the Italian league) and the English Premier League with my dad. He would always urge and push me to watch his favorite players so my game would grow into that of his favorite players. To be frank, Dad and I have vastly different views on how the beautiful game should be played and we would bicker about how my favorite players were much better than his favorite players – a topic that is still argued to this day (he is a Messi fan, and I am a Ronaldo fan).

Regardless of your allegiance to your favorite teams and players, watching the FIFA World Cup in Qatar through December, in my opinion, was magical. A global stage in which kids turn into legends and people who have never watched a minute of soccer understand the beauty of the game I fell in love with at a very young age.

The best part is that we now get to experience a World Cup in our back yard! Now I could go on for pages about how excited I am about the World Cup coming back the United States and how I expect to be at every game in Kansas City with my son, who will be 5 at that time (sorry boss!), but what I believe is going to be the most unique aspect of the World Cup in America, Canada, and Mexico is if these countries will drastically change their soccer and sports infrastructure for the looming month-long event. For example, Qatar built eight brand new soccer stadiums and several new hotels and lodging facilities. Russia, who is bidding on the next World Cup, has proposed to build 10 new stadiums and 4 new practice facilities.

I imagine there might be all sorts of opportunities for entrepreneurs to take advantage of a large influx of people, athletes, and related infrastructure. Much like the Olympics, the business of the World Cup can drastically change a country and more specifically, a city. Sort of like a fast-tracked startup; the business of preparing for a World Cup in a mid-sized city like Kansas City will be fascinating.
  • Will the games be played at Arrowhead?
  • Will Children’s Mercy Park be finally expanded to holding 40,000+ people?
World Cup games are traditionally played on grass, but most of the training facilities in Kansas City are turf. Will the city redevelop certain soccer complexes to ensure that the teams will be able to practice on grass? Regardless of the results of these questions, the World Cup will bring a spotlight to the great city I call home, Kansas City. I am sure the business and work the World Cup will bring to Kansas City will help it further flourish and allow the thousands of travelers to fall in love with Kansas City, much like I did when I first got to play in Children’s Mercy Park!

It undoubtedly will also present opportunities for those with entrepreneurial spirit—see you in 2026!

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