It’s not looking good.
With the North American bid thought to be the frontrunner for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Vancouver looked to be a shoe-in for hosting games at BC Place. But it appears that the BC government is getting cold feet, concerned about the uncertainty of potential costs.
Lisa Beare, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, made a statement regarding the possibility of Vancouver’s involvement as a potential host city on Wednesday:
“The prospect of hosting the FIFA World Cup is exciting for soccer fans, and has the potential to bring significant economic and cultural benefits to British Columbia. For the past several weeks, our government has been working diligently with the United Bid Committee – consisting of Canada, the United States and Mexico – to bring the 2026 Cup to Vancouver, as one of the committee’s Canadian host cities.
“While we support the prospect of hosting the World Cup, we cannot agree to terms that would put British Columbians at risk of shouldering potentially huge and unpredictable costs.
“Throughout this process, we have been in regular contact with the bid committee and other levels of government to support this bid, while protecting taxpayers. Through these conversations and our submissions to the bid committee, we have made numerous attempts to clarify the risks and obligations faced by British Columbians.
“So far, the bid committee has rejected our requests to clarify how much British Columbians could be expected to contribute. And they have declined to negotiate with the province regarding the concerns we raised.
“Should the bid committee reconsider, our door remains open to bringing some of the 2026 World Cup games to Vancouver.”
While nobody wants taxpayers to write a “blank cheque” as premier John Horgan said yesterday, it certainly seems odd that the government is so suspicious of the event. While security costs and the instalment of a temporary grass field are factors to consider, the World Cup would have huge economic impacts on Vancouver, and wouldn’t require building new major infrastructure.
Should the United Bid secure the 2026 event, Canada would host 10 games, likely in 2-3 cities. Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal are on the shortlist of cities being considered.