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Empty seats before the start of the Denver Broncos football game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo., on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

Denver is again seeking to become the center of the sports universe.

Earlier this week, FIFA representatives visited the Mile High City and toured Empower Field at Mile High. Denver is one of 17 U.S. cities competing to be named one of 10 host cities for the 2026 World Cup.

Elected officials including Mayor Michael Hancock greeted the representatives alongside officials from the state's soccer association, Denver Sports Commission and VISIT Denver. They were joined by former U.S. National Team and Colorado Rapids goaltender Tim Howard.

"Denver is an incredibly vibrant city that is recognized across the country and around the world as a unique place that combines urban sophistication with outdoor adventure," Hancock said in a release. "We have the key infrastructure and other amenities already in place to host teams and welcome visitors from around the world."

The 10 cities that FIFA will select as host cities should expect to see up to $360 million in economic impact, according to a Boston Consulting Group study.

But besides the money, it brings visibility to Denver, said Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

"These types of large events create an opportunity to learn more about our city, so that could range from investors looking to invest in a city to companies looking to move or expand here," Door said. "When they do that it provides opportunities for the people in our community and creates an opportunity to attract other talent."

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The Downtown Denver Partnership has been involved in the process along with VISIT Denver and the city by providing feedback and information throughout the bid process, Door said. 

Denver is no stranger to hosting large events as it most recently hosted the 2021 MLB All Star Game in July, the CONCAF Nations League Finals in June and the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

FIFA is expected to choose the 10 host cities that will be in the United States next year, officials said. 

The 2026 World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and it will be the first time it will include 48 countries, up from the current 32.

Besides Denver, the other U.S. cities vying to make the cut include Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Cincinnati; Dallas' Houston; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Miami; Orlando, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; New York/New Jersey; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington

"We value the history and the legacy of what it means to host these types of events and understand how important it is to the players, the fans and community," Door said. "We want to be a host city and want to deliver an event and experience in our community that far exceeds any expectations." 

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