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Cost for B.C. to host 2026 FIFA world cup doubles, now pegged at up to $581M

Click to play video: 'Vancouver FIFA World Cup costs balloon to twice original estimate'
Vancouver FIFA World Cup costs balloon to twice original estimate
We're getting an update on the costs and benefits for hosting seven FIFA World Cup matches in Vancouver two years from now. As Richard Zussman reports, as is often the case in events like this - the price tag has more than doubled – Apr 30, 2024

The projected costs for Vancouver to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup have essentially doubled, the B.C. government revealed on Tuesday.

The new projection for core costs are now estimated at between $483 million and $581 million, Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Minister Lana Popham told media at a briefing at BC Place.

The province’s last projection in 2022 pegged the costs at between $240 million and $260 million.

“When we got the initial numbers, it was before we had a full understanding of the requirements, we didn’t know how many games we were going to get, there were a lot of things that have changed since that original estimate,” Popham said of the cost increase.

“But when government makes decisions we look through the lense of making sure we are keeping costs low and we are maximizing benefits … We feel very confident what we have put forward today is accurate, and we believe taxpayers will be getting the most for that money.”

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Click to play video: 'Uncertainty surrounding 2026 World Cup costs'
Uncertainty surrounding 2026 World Cup costs

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim called the tournament a “massive, massive opportunity” for Vancouver to market itself in the global competition for tourist dollars.

“It’s going to be a month-long commercial, the whole globe is going to be watching Vancouver, so I can’t overstate how amazing this opportunity is,” he said.

Sim added that the event will also help inspire B.C.’s next generation of athletes.

“I think of the Olympics back in 2010, anybody who had kids back then, you know what I am talking about, they were inspired,” Sim said.

“You wake up about seven or eight years later and you see a whole generation of kids who participate in sport and they have a dream they could be a world champion … that’s some of the legacy that is going to be left with the games after the fact.”

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The B.C. government said it expects the tournament’s gross costs to be offset by between $383 million and $436 million in revenues, including $116 million from the federal government.

“This contribution will support the operations and capital expenses of the Vancouver games, including upgrades to BC Place Stadium,” federal Minister of Sport and Physical Activity Carla Qualtrough said.

“This is a major win for Vancouver.”

Qualtrough said the federal government will also provide services including border services, security and intelligence and work visas.

The B.C. government is estimating an additional $230 million in revenue from the major event’s municipal and regional district tax introduced in the City of Vancouver in February 2023 and between $37 million and $90 million in revenue from sources including facility rental fees and the FIFA commercial revenue program.

Those projected revenues would leave B.C. on the hook for net costs of between $100 million and $145 million.

The provincial government is forecasting the tournament will draw up to a million visitors to B.C. between 2026 and 2031, bringing in up to a billion dollars in economic activity and up to $224 million in various tax revenues.

“These seven matches are expected to attract more than 350,000 soccer fans,” Popham said.

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“These fans are going to be eating, they are going to be staying and they are going to be exploring B.C. before, during and after this tournament.”

Click to play video: 'World Cup cost estimates still unknown in B.C.'
World Cup cost estimates still unknown in B.C.

The announcement drew swift condemnation from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, which gave the update a “red card.”

“It’s unacceptable that the province and the city have more than doubled the costs to host just a few soccer matches,” said Carson Binda, the group’s B.C. director.

“The more money that’s wasted on FIFA, the less money that can support British Columbians.”

For comparison, the CTF said the money going to the tournament could pay the salaries of 885 teachers for a decade or build 17 schools.

Toronto’s estimate to host six matches has climbed from $290 million to $380 million in the last year.

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Vancouver will host seven games, accounting for larger cost increases.

BC Place will also need major renovations to accommodate the event, including new elevators, electrical upgrades, VIP facilities and a connection to the Parq casino and hotel.

More to come…

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