The City of Vancouver is putting $5 million in to help the province land a piece of the men's FIFA 2026 World Cup tournament.
The municipal government is hoping to bolster the province's efforts to get some games, which are being held in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. During a March 15 press conference, Mayor Kennedy Stewart called the event the "most exciting place on the planet" and expects any games held in Vancouver to have a huge benefit for the city.
He noted that for the 2015 Women's World Cup the city contributed funding. That included $1.5 million in operating funds. That tournament saw nine games held in the city, including the final.
"Our starting point for the 2026 World Cup was for the event to come at no additional cost, but given the tremendous opportunity we have to support the province and our hard-hit tourism sector, I am proud to announce that in the coming weeks I will recommend to Council that we triple our 2015 World Cup investment and commit up to $5 million in contributions to secure 2026 matches for B.C.," he said.
When V.I.A. asked where the money would be coming from, Stewart said it would be from the city's general revenue budget.
"But you've got to remember this will be over a long period of time. This isn't kind of one chunk in one year. If we decide this now we can build this into budgets up until 2026 and beyond," Stewart explained, noting that agreeing to the funding now would defray the cost over several years.
Aside from the excitement of hosting some soccer games, Stewart pointed to the impact of the pandemic on local tourism businesses and the spotlight the world's biggest sporting event brings.
"In 2015, Vancouver proudly hosted FIFA's Women’s World Cup, including the final match where USA defeated Japan 5-2,” said Mayor Stewart. “We have a chance to welcome the world back to BC in 2026, and I want to do everything I can to make that happen.”