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More Big Sporting Events: Denver Pushing For FIFA World Cup Soccer in 2026

DENVER (CBS4)-- Fans poured out of the All-Star Game and into Lower Downtown Wednesday night, topped off on a baseball fix. A weekend of events led up to the American League victory 5-2, which means the AL would have home field advantage, should the Rockies somehow make it to the World Series this year.

Moving on from that discussion, some people were thinking about the next big event.

"The Super Bowl would be awesome," said Luciano Morales.

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"I want to see an NFL draft here," said Nicole Kincaid. "I want to be able to see the Cowboys fans and the Ravens fans in one spot."

There's a chance for a lot of things, the Super Bowl however, may be a longshot.

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"I think we're going to need a domed stadium if we're going to do Super Bowl," said Matthew Payne, executive director of the Denver Sports Commission, an affiliate of Visit Denver.

Payne is one of the people behind Denver's bids for big events. There are already some lined up. In 2023 the NCAA basketball tournament comes back to town. The Final Four would be a great get, but Payne says those games typically get played in larger domed venues.

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Some of Denver's successes lead to it not being a good fit at times. We'll always be considering the NBA All-Star Game, the NHL All-Star Game.

"What we always have to do, and what we have to work around, is just the busy schedule that we have in the city for available hotel rooms and our convention center."

Coming out of the pandemic neither were busy, and taking on MLB's All-Star game was possible because there was room.

The big push for Denver right now is FIFA World Cup Soccer in 2026.

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"That could easily be the biggest event that we get a chance to host," said Payne.

On the scale of big sporting events it is considered the biggest, even bigger than the Olympics when taken as a whole. But Denver, like other cities is shooting for a part of it.

"It's the global game. There are fans from all over the world that love that game. And it's even going to be bigger than it has before, there's 48 teams that are in that tournament for 2026," said Payne.

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Seventeen American cities are making bids for ten spots. Denver would likely get five or six games played at Empower Field at Mile High.

Representatives from the Zurich-based soccer body will visit Denver to help decide, likely in late September. Around a dozen people will look at Denver, its airport, and Empower Field. A lot of cities have a shot, says Payne, and are potential competition for Denver.

"I think we look at several cities. The two Texas cities of Dallas and Houston, out in the Pacific Northwest with Seattle. Nashville."

Selling points for Denver are its weather (most of the year) and, "We've got a walkable downtown. We've got plenty of hotel rooms."

2026 sounds like a long way off, but soccer supporters have been working on the bid for three years. It has included answering page after page of requirements -- everything from the turf conditions at Empower Field, the angle of the seats for the fans, to drainage.

Payne believes Denver is a good pick.

"I think you can bet on it yeah. I do. I'm not a betting guy myself, we're working really hard. We're not acting like we've got it in the bag for sure. We're going to treat it as an underdog situation. "

A decision from FIFA is expected early next year.

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