Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver vie for selection as FIFA set to announce 2026 World Cup host cities
FIFA is expected to announce its host cities for the 2026 World Cup on Thursday, with Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver being the three Canadian cities seeking selection.
A total of 22 bid cities have raised their hands to host matches for the expanded 48-team men’s tournament to be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The announcement will be made at a press conference in New York.
Recent reports have suggested that FIFA could select 10-12 host cities from the United States for the tournament, Mexico with three and Canada reduced to two.
Montreal dropped out last August after the Quebec provincial government withdrew its support, citing cost overruns that would have been difficult to justify to taxpayers. He was replaced in April by Vancouver, which first made an offer in 2017 and then pulled out in 2018, Premier John Horgan citing the unknown costs of hosting the event.
The provincial government changed its mind last summer with BC Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Melanie Mark saying that hosting the event would be a unique opportunity for soccer fans and the province’s tourism sector.
Vancouver hosted nine matches at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, including the final, which drew more than 50,000 fans. Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium also hosted games in 2015.
Toronto was not part of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, instead hosting the Pan American Games.
If Toronto and Vancouver are selected, both will have work to do.
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BC Place in Vancouver has an artificial playing surface that should be replaced. FIFA requires all World Cup matches to be played on natural grass.
BMO Field in Toronto will need to be expanded to meet FIFA’s minimum capacity of over 40,000 people. BMO Field’s current capacity for a soccer game is 30,000. Toronto FC president Bill Manning said those plans for increased capacity had already been submitted as part of Toronto’s bid process.
The Major League Soccer club is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts and Marlies.
« Everything is done internally by FIFA »
Alan Rothenberg, former president of US Soccer, has thought back to when stadiums were chosen for the 1994 tournament he captained in the United States.
« They gave the rights to the host country, and the host country basically ran everything, » he said. “Everything here is done in-house by FIFA, so it has been a very long and arduous process. The conditions have been incredibly difficult for the cities to manage.
Seventeen stadiums in 16 regions remain in contention to be among the 10 to 12 selected in the United States in other nations.
In handicapping bidders, there seemed to be several levels:
—Locks: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as well as SoFi Stadium in Inglewood or the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
—Hunting: Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta; M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore; Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts; NRG Stadium in Houston; Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri; Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida; Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee; Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California; and Lumen Field in Seattle.
« This country even has more than 17 cities capable of hosting the World Cup, and it will be a shame for those who miss out, » said Andres Cantor of Telemundo, who has been broadcasting the tournament since 1990 and will co-host the announcement. « But I don’t think that’s going to take away the desire of football fans to attend the game, wherever their country lands in 2026. »
Rothenberg said the decision remained uncertain last week between SoFi, which may need expensive renovations to create a wider field, and the Rose Bowl.
« Even now, there are calls all day to try to sort it out, » he said on Tuesday. « There will be discussions between the Los Angeles host committee and FIFA until the time of the announcement. LA’s costs are a big part of the difficulty. »
1st World Cup with 48 nations
Only two of the competing stadiums hosted games in 1994, the Rose Bowl joined by Orlando. Dozens of training complexes have been built for MLS teams, creating a much better infrastructure than at the first World Cup in the United States, when Italy trained at the Pingry School in Basking Ridge, in New Jersey, and that the United States trained before it opened on a windswept field at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.
All US stadiums plan for capacities of 60,000 or more. Three have retractable roofs and one has a fixed roof. Ten have artificial grass but would switch to temporary grass.
It will be the first 48-nation World Cup, up from the 32-team format used since 1998. there will be 16 groups of three nations. Each team will play two first-round matches instead of three under a clumsy arrangement in which one nation from each group opens up against an opponent who has already played. The top two from each group advance to a 32-nation knockout bracket.
Revenues skyrocketed: the 1994 Cup attracted a record 3.59 million fans and grossed US$580 million, which generated a profit of US$133.25 million for FIFA and US$50 million dollars for the American organizing committee. FIFA said the 2018 World Cup in Russia generated $5.357 billion in revenue over a four-year cycle and a surplus of $3.533 billion.
Rothenberg predicts that many US states and cities will refuse to comply.
« I think that’s a fair assumption in most jurisdictions. Some of them may just roll it into the price of the stadium and stuff, but getting an actual waiver can be difficult, » he said. -he declares. « At the end of the day, it just means another cost that the host committee, the host city, will be responsible for. »
Candidates, cities and stadiums
Edmonton, Commonwealth Stadium; Toronto, BMO Land; Vancouver, BC Place Stadium.
Guadalajara, Akron Stadium; Mexico City, Estadio Azteca; Monterrey, BBVA Stadium.
Arlington, Texas, AT&T Stadium; Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz Stadium; Baltimore, M&T Bank Stadium; Cincinnati, Paul Brown Stadium; Denver, Empower Field at Mile High; East Rutherford, New Jersey, MetLife Stadium; Foxborough, Mass., Gillette Stadium; Houston, NRG Stadium; Inglewood, California, SoFi Stadium; Kansas City, Missouri, Arrowhead Stadium; Miami Gardens, Florida, Hard Rock Stadium; Nashville, Tennessee, Nissan Stadium; Orlando, Florida, Camping World Stadium; Pasadena, Calif., Rose Bowl; Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Field; Santa Clara, Calif., Levi’s Stadium; Seattle, Lumen Field.