'Great for the city,' mayor says as Toronto named one of FIFA 2026 World Cup hosts
June 17, 2022
A crowd of soccer fans decked out in red and white gear at a Toronto bar erupted in cheers as they heard their city called among the names of sites set to host the 2026 FIFA men's World Cup.
FIFA announced its list of host cities on Thursday for the international soccer tournament's 23rd edition, which is set to take place across Canada, Mexico and the U.S. from June 8 to July 3, 2026.
Among the crowd at the Real Sports Bar in downtown Toronto was Mayor John Tory, who joined the crowd in cheering and applauding as his city was announced as a World Cup co-host.
"I think it's going to be one of the greatest sporting occasions in the history of the city," Tory told CBC News.
"This city is the world in one place, and so no matter what teams come to play here, you know there's a community that's ready to cheer them on and ready to be crazy with enthusiasm," he said.
FIFA announced Toronto will be a host city for the World Cup 2026 along with Vancouver and 14 other cities in Mexico and the United States -- though it has not yet been announced how many matches will take place in Toronto and when.
Toronto is set to host "multiple matches" at BMO Field and major fan events across the city during the 32-day tournament, according to a city news release on Thursday.
"FIFA will determine at a later date which tournament matches will be played in Toronto," the release noted.
The city could host up to five of the 10 matches expected to be hosted in Canada out of the 80 matches in total across the 16 cities selected in North America.
Toronto will host soccer matches at BMO Field, the home of Toronto FC, which has a capacity of 30,000 but will rise beyond the FIFA-mandated minimum of 40,000 after upgrades are made in time for the summer of 2026.
"The FIFA World Cup 2026 will represent a historic moment for the game of soccer, and for our great city, and we are appreciative to all who helped us achieve this goal, including both the Provincial and Federal governments," said Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE).
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Games expected to cost taxpayers at least $90M
The event will come with a hefty price tag for the city, with the Toronto games expected to cost an estimated $290 million -- though the provincial and federal governments are expected to cover approximately two-thirds of that figure.
The city expects to spend more than $90 million to host some of the 2026 matches, according to a staff report released in March.
City council approved the plan in April, which had noted a proposed price tag for hosting would be $73.8 million, plus another $20 million in supporting resources.
City staff have projected that Toronto will make back $307 million, according to the report. The city also expects to create 3,300 new jobs and host around 174,000 overnight visitors during the tournament, which would account for another $3.5 million in tax revenue.
"This is as much about the economy as it is about sports," Tory said. "And our opportunity to build this city up in terms of what is already a good reputation, to make a great reputation and get the best in the world to come and live and invest here in what I think is the single greatest place they could come in the world to do business."
Tory framed the World Cup as a chance to build Toronto's legacy, saying millions of people will tune in to watch the games, and thousands more will descend on Toronto to watch in person.
"I'm very bullish about this and I think the investment will more than pay itself back many times."