Canada prepares for the 2026 World Cup

This week we learned how many World Cup matches will take place in Vancouver and Toronto, which will host the men’s soccer tournament along with cities in the United States and Mexico in 2026.

As we knew from the beginning, Canada and Mexico will sit at the children’s table, hosting just 13 games each. The United States will play 78 games, including the final, which will take place in an 87,000-seat stadium in New Jersey, which organizers describe as being in New York, presumably because the stadium normally hosts the New York Giants and New York City. Jets. The tournament will begin in Mexico City on June 11.

[Read all the details from The Athletic: World Cup 2026: The biggest tournament yet and a New York final]

Vancouver will host seven games and Toronto will have six, including the first game involving the Canadian national team. The cost to both cities and the status of stadium preparation are less clear.

Qatar, which hosted the 2022 tournament, built seven new stadiums.

Canada’s efforts will be much more modest. Vancouver will renovate BC Place for the second time since it replaced the facility’s inflatable roof with a retractable one in 2011 — a move that cost C$149 million over its $365 million budget. And Toronto is adding an unusually precise 15,736 temporary seats to the 30,000 seats now available at BMO Field. (In 2021, Montreal withdrew its bid as host city after the provincial government refused to provide funding concern about potential cost overruns.)

The British Columbia government estimated in 2022 that the cost of preparations would be between C$240 million and C$260 million, including $40 million for facilities, a category that includes driving ranges in addition to BC Place. Both the province and the city of Vancouver have refused to cancel the agreement with FIFA. the sport’s international governing body, citing confidentiality provisions, or to answer specific questions about it, although nearby Seattle, another host city, it apparently had no such restriction.

Among other things, the Seattle agreement provides a tight timeline for completing all stadium construction: the middle of next year.

In Toronto, a city where a major light rail project is about two and a half years behind schedule, stadium renovations are still in the hands of architects.

Sharon Bollenbach, executive director of the World Cup host city, told me in a statement that the current plan is for construction to begin this fall.

Toronto’s current estimated cost for hosting is 300 million. But FIFA subsequently expanded the number of teams participating in the competition and, therefore, the number of matches. Toronto will now host one more game than expected; Vancouver will have two more.

“The city is reviewing planning assumptions and will recalculate costs, revenue opportunities and benefits,” Ms. Bollenbach said by email. “Existing calculations were based on Toronto hosting five games. As with any major event, the city is working with partners to balance costs and benefits to ensure that any public investment in hosting the World Cup in Toronto produces significant benefits and legacies for Torontonians.”

The idea that the economic and tourism benefits will outweigh the costs for host cities has also been put forward by Ken Sim, mayor of Vancouver, a city who expects the tournament to create more than $1 billion a year in economic activity up to 2026. and for each of the following five years.

“When you bring economic activity to the city, you lift everyone up” Mr. Sim told CBC. “You create more opportunities for people.”

Money aside, with Canada guaranteed entry into the World Cup as host nation and many members of its national team, including Alphonso Davies, among the top ranks of international professional players, enthusiasm is likely to be high in the 2026.

But claims that the World Cup will bring in more in economic terms than it costs to host its matches should be viewed with skepticism. For decades, economists have gone backwards and examined pre-match predictions of dramatic economic and tourism gains for host nations and cities. There is broad consensus: predictions are, at best, exaggerated, and economic effects are often minimal and short-lived.

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