Growing push to build Surrey stadium to host 2026 FIFA World Cup events

Click to play video: 'Proposed Surrey stadium could host 2026 World Cup events'
Proposed Surrey stadium could host 2026 World Cup events
WATCH: We're getting the first look at a 12,000-seat stadium proposed for Surrey. As Janet Brown reports, there's hope it could be ready to host events during the 2026 World Cup – May 14, 2024

As the clock ticks down to Vancouver hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, there is a growing push to build a new stadium in Surrey to get in on the festivities.

The Surrey Board of Trade has pitched the concept of a 12,000-seat pre-fabricated, modular stadium with the capability to be relocated.

Click to play video: 'Surrey mayor announces new stadium, entertainment district'
Surrey mayor announces new stadium, entertainment district

Early estimates for the concept peg the cost at about $35 million.

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“It can be built in time for FIFA and also used for other types of events — corporate events, music events, it could be used for practice, or other types of FIFIA events,” Surrey Board of Trade president and CEO Anita Huberman said.

“It can be done, we just need the political will and the political courage to make it happen.”

Early discussions suggest the stadium could be located at Tom Binne Park in Whalley, with the possibility of integrating the BC Lions adjacent training facility.

The proposed developer, Six Five Stadium Experience, built the stadium next to the Langley Events Centre.

Adam Torpey, the company’s vice-president of business development, said one benefit of the modular concept is that it can be expanded to grow with the community.

“I’d like to have it up and running yesterday, never mind when FIFA hits,” Torpey said.

“The thing is it’s a community asset, so not only is it a stadium for maybe a professional team, but it’s also for the community of Surrey.”

Click to play video: 'Will the economic benefits of Vancouver’s FIFA World Cup payoff?'
Will the economic benefits of Vancouver’s FIFA World Cup payoff?

The City of Surrey is currently conducting a feasibility study on the general concept of building a 12,000-seat venue.

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Surrey city councillor Linda Annis said despite political differences on other issues, “council by and large is pretty much in alignment” about the need for a stadium.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke brought the concept up during her state of the city address earlier this year.

“It’s critical, we don’t have enough sporting facilities here,” Annis said.

“I think it’s a real opportunity to be able to get this done now.”

Huberman said in addition to potentially serving as a practice facility for World Cup teams, the facility could be used for other FIFA-related festival events in order to bring some of the tournament’s benefits South of the Fraser.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver FIFA World Cup costs balloon to twice original estimate'
Vancouver FIFA World Cup costs balloon to twice original estimate

The event’s regional benefits are something Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim has regularly touted, and on Tuesday it was a message he took to municipal and business leaders in Surrey.

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“What’s good for Surrey and South of the Fraser is good for Vancouver and vice versa,” he said.

“We’re working really hard to build more hotel rooms in Vancouver but we don’t have enough. So the overflow will come to Surrey, and there are lots of hotel rooms we can utilize to put people up while they enjoy the games and the spinoff effects are going to be huge.”

The growing cost of hosting the tournament now pegged at up to $581 million, and a potential shortage of hotel rooms both in Vancouver and around the region, remain key concerns as the 2026 event draws nearer.

While Surrey has begun to study the stadium idea, there is no clear timeline on when it could get official approval.

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