Alberta’s two major cities have been shortlisted as possible host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Calgary and Edmonton were among seven Canadian cities shortlisted to possibly host World Cup games if the joint North American bid is successful.
The proposed stadium for Edmonton is Commonwealth Stadium, which has a capacity of 56,335. The proposed facility for Calgary is McMahon Stadium, which can currently hold 35,650 people.
Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto and Vancouver are the other Canadian cities that have made the shortlist.
“Of the seven cities that are in this process right now, Edmonton really stands out in the fact that we’ve hosted many FIFA tournaments in our city, we have the second-largest stadium capacity out of those cities involved,” Janelle Janis, event attraction manager with Edmonton Events, said.
Each city has until Sept. 5 to declare its interest, then the Canadian Soccer Association will investigate each bid.
“Edmonton will be declaring our interest to be a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” Janis said.
“It’s a great opportunity for Edmonton to showcase what we have to offer as a host city and our experience with hosting FIFA events in the past has been tremendous.
“All of our information has to be into the United Bid Committee by Sept. 5 so we’re gathering all the information necessary… and we’ll be providing that obviously by the deadline and hopefully have some good news by the end of September.”
The North American bid involves Canada, Mexico and the United States.
There are a total of 49 stadiums located in 44 cities on the shortlist. Organizers said 10 games would be played in Canada, while the final would be held in the U.S.
The FIFA Council agreed in January to expand the current the 32-country tournament to 48 teams split into 16 groups of three. The top two teams from each group will then advance to a 32-team knockout stage.
Canada is coming off hosting the 2015 Women’s World Cup, deemed a success on and off the field. It has also hosted the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup, the 2007 U-20 Men’s World Cup, and the 1997 U-16 Men’s World Cup (now a U-17 event).
It would be the first time Canada hosts the men’s World Cup if the bid is accepted.
The official bid will be sent to FIFA by March 16, 2018.
A decision on the successful 2026 bidder is expected in June 2018. Canada has only qualified for one men’s World Cup – in 1986.
— With files from Emily Mertz