VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver’s mayor says he’s excited about the idea of hosting 2026 FIFA World Cup games in the city.
On Tuesday, Premier John Horgan said the province is prepared to “entertain” the possibility of hosting games in Vancouver.
Horgan’s comments follow Montreal’s decision to bow out of the running, opening the door to the possibility of Vancouver becoming a host city.
“Certainly, with Montreal stepping away, it does create a real opportunity for Vancouver,” Horgan said.
However, Mayor Kennedy Stewart says there are many arrangements to be made first.
“We’re spoilt for choice. And we’ve got to decide what’s the thing we want to do next,” he said.
Ultimately it is up to the province, Stewart says, adding, “the province runs BC Place.”
“They decided initially not to participate. It does seem now like the premier has changed his position. And that means we’re in a great position to re-enter the conversation.
“What I can say is that Vancouver is very good at hosting events — from the Olympics to Rugby Sevens, the FIFA Women’s World Cup. We know how to host world-class events. But we have a bit of reason to have caution.”
Re: bringing @FIFAWorldCup to #Vancouver in 2026, Mayor Kennedy Stewart says “we know how to host world class events,” but he is worried about security costs and “FIFA is a demanding partner,” so we need to make sure #Ottawa provides funding support.#vanpoli #bcpoli @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@MBernardoNews) July 14, 2021
In a statement last week, Montreal said it would pull its bid after the Quebec government withdrew its support, citing cost overruns. Stewart says that’s the reason the decision to host the games needs to be made carefully.
“We know that FIFA is a demanding partner. And if Montreal has already stepped back there, there must be a range of financial pressures that we need to be prepared for,” he said.
“We need the province to make sure that local taxpayers aren’t facing big property tax increases as the host, and we need to make sure that Ottawa helps with security.”
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Horgan has said he has been in contact with FIFA representatives in Canada and indicated if the price tag is as high as it was the last time B.C. considered a bid, it would still be too “rich” for the provincial government.
A lot has changed since 2018, when the NDP had just taken power and was reviewing the fiscal situation as a minority government, he said, not least of all is the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has battered the tourism industry.
“The prospect of inviting the world to Vancouver in 2026 all of a sudden takes on a whole new meaning. Not just for those passionate about soccer but those who would want to see an opportunity to reacquaint the world with the splendor of British Columbia and particularly Vancouver,” Horgan said on Tuesday.
B.C. has made “abundantly clear” to organizers that the price must be right, but both FIFA and the province are in different places than they were in 2018, he said.
“We’re prepared to entertain those discussions and see where we go.”
If the province follows through in its decision to host, Stewart says he is excited.
“FIFA wants to be here. We know how to pull off these events. I’m eager to work with the Prime Minister and the premier and FIFA to make this work for Vancouver,” he said.
“I hope we can get there. I think we could get there.”
There were 17 cities in the United States and three each in Canada and Mexico vying to host games until Montreal withdrew. That number likely will be cut to 16 for the tournament.
In January, FIFA said it would confirm the candidate cities by the end of the year.
A FIFA delegation met with Canada Soccer and representatives from the Canadian cities in Toronto in March 2020 before the pandemic started shutting sports down.
Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. were selected over Morocco to host the 2026 tournament on June 13, 2018, by the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow.
The U.S. candidate cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
Mexico’s candidate cities are Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey.