It will cost up to $260 million to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Vancouver

Jun 17 2022, 1:14 am

After much consternation, the ultimate beautiful game will be coming to Vancouver after all.

FIFA officially announced today its 16 host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Vancouver was the first host city to be announced during the live broadcast, and it will co-host the tournament with other major cities such as Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, and New York City.

Edmonton, which was added to the serious consideration of cities after the BC provincial government pulled Vancouver out in 2018, did not make the final cut. After months of negotiations, FIFA announced Vancouver was officially back in the running in April 2022.

Today’s announcement did not formally reveal the allocated number and types of matches to each host city. FIFA will announce this at a future date, including the three cities that will host the opening ceremony and opening match, and the city that will host the championship final.

This World Cup will be the largest ever, and the first to feature 48 teams playing in 80 matches. It is anticipated the United States will host 60 matches, with Canada and Mexico expected to host 10 matches each.

It was recently reported that Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium will be assigned six matches, while Toronto’s BMO Field will have four. This would be in line with past World Cups, where each host city typically stages roughly between three and 10 matches, with stadium size and city market size being a major determinant for the number and type of matches held.

For the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Vancouver held nine matches, including the championship final.

For 2026, it is expected BC Place Stadium will hold the key role of hosting Canada’s opening ceremony and opening match. Each of the three host nations will host their own simultaneous opening ceremony and opening match.

However, the designation and responsibilities of a host city are not limited to the month-long tournament in Summer 2026. Vancouver, in particular, given its wealth of experience in sports hosting and its event infrastructure, could have additional roles in the lead-up to the tournament, including the qualification matches.

Additionally, Vancouver could potentially be the host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup draw, which is a high-profile event televised around the world months before the actual tournament. There were previously some suggestions that Vancouver Convention Centre would fit the role for the draw.

BC Place Stadium in Vancouver during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. (FIFA)

That leads to what this will all cost.

Shortly after today’s announcement, the provincial government revealed the planning, staging, and hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Vancouver will carry a total cost between $240 million and $260 million. This includes any potential contributions from the federal government and the City of Vancouver, stadium and training site rentals and other sources, and potential marketing opportunities that are expected to generate revenue.

The provincial government did not provide a cost estimate breakdown, but security is certain to be a major line item, and an expense most likely to be shared with the federal government.

Practice/training sites — complete with a high degree of amenities for players, including temporary construction if required — will need to be established in and around Vancouver for the visiting teams.

In 2018, the Vancouver Park Board named four sites — each with turf surfaces — that were being considered for FIFA World Cup practice/training facilities: Memorial South Park near John Oliver Secondary School, Trillium Park in the False Creek Flats, Empire Fields at Hastings Park, and Jericho Fields next to Jericho Beach in West Point Grey. At the time, it was stated that two fields will likely be chosen for use for up to 45 days.

As for the main venue, some minor upgrades to BC Place Stadium are possible, including the requirement to install a temporary grass pitch, but this is a relatively low cost and not a physical challenge.

All host cities are also required to stage a major month-long FIFA Fan Festival near their stadium, which would be similar to Live City Yaletown during the 2010 Olympics. The City of Vancouver previously estimated the World Cup fan festival would cost $20 million. This fan festival is typically free for the general public.

Canada Soccer indicated today that in addition to the “marquee” FIFA Fan Festivals in the host cities, it will pursue opportunities to host live sites across Canada.

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Live City Yaletown at David Lam Park during the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Alfred Shum/Flickr)

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Rio de Janeiro’s FIFA Fan Festival during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. (Shutterstock)

The provincial government estimates Vancouver’s host city role could generate more than $1 billion in new revenue for BC’s tourism sector during the tournament — depending on the number of matches played at BC Place Stadium — and over the subsequent five years. The World Cup has been touted as one of the strategies to revive tourism in the province, given the anticipated long-term effects of the pandemic on global travel.

“British Columbia welcomes the world for FIFA World Cup 2026,” said Premier John Horgan.

“We’re not hosting the largest ever World Cup just for kicks. British Columbians will enjoy an economic boost to the tourism and hospitality sectors that will be felt for years to come. We look forward to welcoming the global soccer community to our province.”

Earlier this year, Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart announced he would introduce a member motion for Vancouver City Council’s consideration to commit the municipal government to spending up to $5 million towards the provincial government’s estimated total costs of bringing the World Cup to the city. The motion has yet to be deliberated.

“As a huge fan of the World Cup, I am thrilled that Vancouver has been chosen as one of the Host Cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” said Stewart. “We can’t wait to welcome fans and players to Vancouver, and I know we’re especially looking forward to cheering on the Canadian Men’s National Team for the first time ever on home soil.”

“This is a once in a generation opportunity for soccer fans, for our tourism sector, and for all British Columbians.  The FIFA World Cup is a unique opportunity that will benefit the entire region and province, boost tourism for years to come, and strengthen our economy ​​as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Hosting the World Cup will once again highlight Vancouver as a premiere destination for international, premiere league sports and athleticism, as we saw with the 2010 Olympic Games.”

The cost of staging the World Cup in Canada, the United States, and Mexico in 2026 is relatively low as the concept plan focuses on using existing stadiums and infrastructure that meet World Cup standards — eliminating the type of major capital investments that the upcoming Qatar 2022 organizers and previous World Cups have expended. Unlike Qatar 2022, Russia 2018, Brazil 2014, and South Africa 2010, no new stadiums are being built for the 2026 World Cup.

The $563-million overhaul of BC Place Stadium performed a decade ago transformed the concrete bowl into Canada’s flagship stadium, which enabled the venue’s potential for the Women’s World Cup and World Rugby Canada Sevens, and now the World Cup in 2026 and potentially a second Winter Olympics in 2030. The upgrades and additions performed to BC Place Stadium will still be valid in 2026. The stadium holds 54,500 seated spectators.

In contrast, Toronto’s BMO Field on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition will require major upgrades to bring it to FIFA standards, in terms of both amenities, infrastructure, and capacity. The slender venue consists of grandstands that currently only seat 30,000 — well below the bare minimum World Cup capacity requirement of at least 40,000 seats, which would likely only allow Toronto to host early group stage matches during the tournament. For 2026, BMO Field will be temporarily expanded to 45,000 seats to meet the standards.

The cost of hosting the World Cup in Toronto is estimated to be $290 million.

Montreal was previously in the running to be a 2026 host city, but it dropped out in July 2021, which opened the door for Vancouver’s consideration. Very significant pre-2026 renovations were previously proposed for Olympic Stadium, including a new $250 million roof, but those plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.

bmo field toronto

BMO Field in Toronto. (Canada Soccer)

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