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It could cost Toronto $290 million to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026

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A recent report from the City of Toronto outlines the staggering cost that would be involved to bring the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup to the 416 as part of a winning joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the United States to score the tournament and its global viewership of four billion people.

Toronto is vying to be one of 16 cities across North America to host some of the 80 planned World Cup matches, each garnering viewerships of upwards of 200 million.

In Jan. 2018, Toronto councillors voted to endorse the city’s participation, putting the city in the running among 22 others in a selection process to wrap up in May. Toronto is anticipated to host five of the matches, but it won’t come cheap, the games coming with a price tag of over a quarter billion dollars.

“Overall, the operations and capital costs to be incurred locally in Toronto are projected to be approximately $290 million by 2026, including a 10 percent contingency,” the report reads.

The federal and provincial governments are being asked to chip in two-thirds of the overall cost of hosting the tournament, amounting to an approximate total of $177 million. This would leave the City of Toronto on the hook for more than $90 million to foot the cost of the games, a sizeable increase from the $30-45 million figure floated back in 2018.

The sky-high bill includes an up-front cost to the city of $73.8 million, plus an additional $20 million value-in-kind.

But as the saying goes, you’ve gotta spend money to make money. And this is no exception.

Sure, Toronto would have to spend a colossal sum of money to host just five matches, but those few games would be watched by possibly over a billion people, meaning a double-digit percentage of the global population would see Toronto in the limelight.

Not only would the games draw global media attention, but they’d be a massive boom for the local economy. The 2026 World Cup matches planned for Toronto are projected to generate $307 million of GDP impact, 3,300 jobs and 174,000 overnight visitors paying for over 292,000 room nights with projected Municipal Accommodation Tax revenues of $3.5 million.

Even smaller events like the Pan American/Parapan American Games in 2015 did great things for the city, including the construction of an entirely new neighbourhood on a former post-industrial wasteland.

It’s expected that the World Cup would come with its own benefits like improved recreational facilities for the city, and a planned expansion of BMO Field to accommodate FIFA crowds.

Even with the massive cost increase, the report’s direction from the City Manager calls on council to accept the nomination of Toronto as a host city should it be awarded by FIFA, something that should be confirmed within the coming weeks.

City council will vote on the matter, which kind of seems like a no-brainer from a revenue-generating perspective, this week.

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