Lawrence selected as possible ‘base camp’ location for 2026 World Cup team; players would train near Rock Chalk Park

photo by: Chance Parker

Kansas hosts Ohio State during the collegiate soccer season opener at Rock Chalk Park on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022.

Lawrence has been selected as one of the possible “base camp” locations for an international soccer team to live and train during the 2026 World Cup, FIFA announced on Wednesday.

FIFA released the first edition of its Team Base Camp Brochure, which includes 24 locations at which some of the 48 qualifying teams for the World Cup may choose to set up shop during the summer of 2026. One of the possible base camp setups would have athletes train at the University of Kansas’ facilities and live at the nearby StoneHill hotel on Rock Chalk Drive.

Bonnie Lowe, president and CEO of the Lawrence chamber of commerce, said on Wednesday that if the city of Lawrence were selected, it would get a chance to showcase its arts and culture, entertainment, recreational activities and more, not to mention that the universities in and around town would receive an “opportunity for those great institutions to promote themselves.”

“It’ll impact housing, and grocery stores and food and drink and retail operations,” Lowe said, “so it’ll impact virtually every aspect of our area.”

She said that while she didn’t have numbers on potential economic impact, it would be “substantial.” Last summer, local business leaders had expressed optimism about the commercial infusion that hosting a base camp could provide to the city of Lawrence. Jake Reid, president and CEO of Sporting Kansas City, said at an event in June 2023 that a base camp could yield economic impact “definitely in the millions.”

Lowe added that the impact of the six-week commitment would be bolstered by not only having a team in Lawrence but also the possibility of attracting “day visitors” to town.

While not every prospective base camp location is directly attached to a host city for the competition, Lawrence has the advantage of proximity to Kansas City’s GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, which is one of 16 host venues (11 of which are in the United States) for the 2026 competition.

Other base camp locations in the Kansas City area include Sporting KC’s training center in Kansas City, Kansas, paired with the Sheraton Overland Park Hotel at the Convention Center; and the KC Current training facility in Riverside, Missouri, paired with Hyatt’s downtown Hotel Kansas City.

FIFA plans to add more cities to the list of potential base camps over the course of the next year and a half. Lowe said it is her understanding that there will be more base camp locations than teams.

Teams will pick their base camps once they receive their matchups and group assignments for the competition. According to FIFA’s press release, “The draw, anticipated to be staged in late 2025, will reveal the geographic zones in which teams will play their group matches, further guiding their decisions regarding their respective Team Base Camp locations.”

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