The City of Toronto is considering spending more than $90 million to host some FIFA World Cup matches when the tournament comes to North America in 2026.
City council will discuss the full details at a meeting next week, but they’re available in a staff report presented Wednesday at a meeting of Mayor John Tory’s executive committee.
Despite the high price of hosting, city staff believe the tournament would put $307 million back into the local economy.
“Hosting part of the 2026 World Cup will bring global media attention and could result in positive economic and cultural impacts for the city, while supporting recovery and rebuild efforts,” the report states.
The proposal comes at a time when soccer fever is at an all-time high in Toronto. Canada’s men’s national team qualified for this year’s World Cup with a thrilling victory over Jamaica at BMO Field on Sunday. It’s the first time since 1986 that Canada will participate in the tournament and several of the team’s stars come from the Greater Toronto Area.
That all makes the prospect of the city hosting some 2026 games even more exciting.
The proposed price tag for hosting would be $73.8 million, plus another $20 million in supporting resources, according to the report.
But along with the projected $307 million to be made back, the city also expects to create 3,300 new jobs and host around 174,000 overnight visitors during the tournament. Those visitors would account for another $3.5 million in tax revenue.
Looking to post-pandemic economic recovery, the report also states: “the event will sustain recovery in hard-hit sectors, such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment.”
The city’s bid is a follow-up to a previous one put forward by Canada, Mexico and the United States to jointly host the 2026 tournament. That bid was accepted in 2018.
If selected, Toronto could host up to five of the 10 matches expected to be hosted in Canada. There will be 80 matches in total across 16 North American cities.
FIFA expects to select the host cities in May.
In total, hosting these matches in Toronto would cost $290 million, according to the report.
With Toronto covering about a third of that, the report also outlines that the federal and provincial governments have been asked to cover the other two thirds at a combined $177 million — similar to the arrangement made to host the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games.
Staff used the Pan Am games as an example of Toronto’s ability to plan and deliver major sporting events like the World Cup.
“Legacies from the World Cup will be developed with a view towards civic engagement, improved recreational facilities, and environmental sustainability,” the report said.