VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Bad news for soccer fans, Sportsnet 650 has confirmed Vancouver will not be a host city of the FIFA World Cup in 2026.
NEWS 1130‘s sister station reports the United Bid Committee has sent a letter to the city and province, saying Vancouver has missed the deadline, and that Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton will be among the Canadian cities under consideration.
LISTEN: Vancouver Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi
This comes after the province raised concerns about cost, and after its requests for clarification were rejected by the committee.
BREAKING NEWS: Sources tell @Sportsnet650 that the United 2026 committee has informed Vancouver they are no longer a part of the bidding process after the city failed to meet the deadline.
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— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) March 14, 2018
“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,” BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lisa Beare, said in a statement.
In a follow-up interview, NEWS 1130 asked Beare if she’s holding out hope Vancouver could still get a shot at hosting. “We worked really hard on these bids and we’d love to see the World Cup come to Vancouver. Our door is always open. We’ve addressed our concerns with the bid committee and if they’d like to talk to us about it, we’d be happy to do so.”
Premier John Horgan also told reporters earlier this week that while he would like to see World Cup men’s soccer come to BC, he is not about the give FIFA a “blank cheque.”
Vancouver’s restaurants, hotels and other businesses benefiting from the event are now expected to lose out, but it’s not clear how much money was at stake.
Charles Gauthier with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association isn’t happy about this, but he’s not blaming anyone specifically. “I don’t know enough about what made it fall apart and it’s not my place to cast any kind of judgement on that — just disappointed.”
Vancouver Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi is disappointed, but says if Canada wins the bid, it’ll be good for the country. “It will still be very exciting for Canada to be a co-host of this event and we know that there’s some steps to still overcome, but, yeah, disappointed that it won’t be in our backyard if in fact we get past Morocco.”
The province owns BC Place, and would have been on the hook for a portion of the cost for things like security, parking, and modifications to the playing surface, if Vancouver was selected. Horgan insisted taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for unknown costs because of FIFA.
An official news release about this is set to be issued tomorrow, however, the BC Liberals have already reacted.
Opposition MLA Jas Johal released the following statement:
“It’s extremely disappointing the BC NDP have pulled the rug out from under soccer fans and the tourism industry.
This bid, which shares costs across the continent, was a fabulous opportunity to promote British Columbia as part of the most-watched sporting event in the world. Other provinces have come to arrangements but the BC NDP is the lone jurisdiction who has failed to come to the table.
This is a process that has been underway for months and yesterday the Tourism Minister showed little knowledge of the file. The Minister should now provide all the facts as to why the BC NDP was unable to reach an agreement to participate in this unprecedented chance to promote the province.
The former government worked hard with the City of Vancouver, sports organizations and the tourism sector to realize this opportunity. British Columbians, who will now have to reserve a spot on the sofa instead of the stadium, deserve to know why the BC NDP bailed on a chance to market British Columbia to the world. Though it’s not surprising, as the BC NDP previously opposed Expo 86 and the 2010 Winter Olympics.”
The City of Vancouver has also put out a statement:
“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. 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.”
Canada, Mexico and the US are up against Morocco to host the tournament, with a final decision expected on June 13th.