While discussions over the BC NDP’s decision to pull Vancouver’s 2026 FIFA World Cup bid have largely centred around the lost hosting of up to five matches at BC Place. But one major aspect of the hosting duties that is seldom discussed is the FIFA Fan Fest that all host cities are required to stage.
The free, month-long Fan Fest allows the public – beyond those who hold tickets to the matches – to enjoy the World Cup festivities.
It would be similar to the Fan Fest that was held during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup at Larwill Park in downtown Vancouver, except the version for the men’s tournament would be a world-class festival with a larger scope.
The City of Vancouver spent just $1.2 million the 2015 Fan Fest, whereas the proposed budget for the men’s tournament’s significantly more elaborate Fan Fest is up to 17 times larger.
In a staff report in January, the municipal government estimated between $10 million and $20 million would be required for Vancouver’s 2026 Fan Fest. The event would have had programming similar to the high calibre of Live City Yaletown at David Lam Park during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Live City Yaletown, one of two official City-operated Live Sites during the Games, had a festival-sized stage, elaborate pavilions from Olympic sponsors such as Samsung, Panasonic, and Coca Cola, nightly fireworks and light shows, and daily performances by acts such as Deadmau5.
Each Fan Fest will be open every match day of the tournament in each host city, regardless of the match days in city the Fan Fest is located. All matches will be live screened.
These festivals alone are major economic drivers, in addition to the impact of staging the matches, given the immense scope and size. The Fan Fest for the men’s tournament typically have capacities in excess of 10,000 people.
For its role in its submission to the United Bid Committee’s joint three-nation bid, the City of Vancouver has invested years of staff time towards the development of the plans, which began with the lessons learnt from hosting the 2015 women’s tournament.
“The City is extremely disappointed that Vancouver’s bid to be a FIFA 2026 World Cup Host City is currently not being considered as we believe hosting the biggest sporting event on earth would have offered significant economic benefits,” said the municipal government in a statement yesterday.
“Vancouver remains a city with an exceptional sports hosting history and we look forward to working with the Province and our Sport Hosting Vancouver team to identify future international sporting events that bring positive economic and cultural impact to Vancouver.”
Two bids – North America (Canada, USA, and Mexico) and Morocco – are being considered for the hosting duties in 2026. The winner will be announced by FIFA in June 2018, shortly before the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.