January 23, 2018 2:58 pm
Updated: January 23, 2018 8:35 pm

Edmonton will submit joint bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton is officially joining a joint North American bid for the 2026 Men's World Cup. As Tom Vernon explains, it isn't the only major sporting event being considered for Alberta that year.

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City councillors decided Tuesday that Edmonton will officially put in a joint bid to host the FIFA Men’s World Cup in 2026.

“Edmonton is very interested,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “There are a few more details to work out before everything is finalized, but absolutely, we’re putting our hand up and saying we’d love to see the world here in 2026 for a few soccer games.”

The tournament would be split between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

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Last week, city council was asked to approve the bid after Edmonton was shortlisted with three other Canadian cities to help host the event if a North American bid is successful. The other cities under consideration are Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The event has the potential to bring in more than $200 million.

READ MORE: Report finds hosting part of 2026 FIFA World Cup to cost $35-$55 million 

Up to three cities in Canada would host 10 games and a city report found event costs could range between $35 million and $55 million.

Councillor Tim Cartmell, who is on the Community and Public Services Committee, said the expenses would be worth it.

“The preliminary estimates of the economic spinoff are around $170 million USD to the host city. A $55 million investment to reap what would be an insane dollar value – $200 million economic impact – I think, [it] would be well worth the effort,” he said.

The mayor agrees it’s an amazing bang-for-buck opportunity.

“It’s in the tens of millions, ultimately, of cost, which when you consider the global reach of these events — and that we’d have to spend at least millions on the stadium anyway over the next 10 years — if we could get help with some of those stadium costs, I think we could actually wind up ahead overall,” Iveson said.

READ MORE: Attendance record set in Edmonton for FIFA Women’s World Cup opening match

Edmonton has played host to the World Championships in Athletics at Commonwealth Stadium and helped host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“We know that we can host major international soccer events,” Iveson said.

“We’ve got a great track record, a good relationship with Soccer Canada and with FIFA and I think we’d be in a good position to have a number of potentially significant matches here.”

He said hosting would be good for tourism, promoting Edmonton as a destination and on TV, and “to kind of put Edmonton in the top tier of Canadian cities next to the other cities that would be part of the Canadian contingent.”

READ MORE: Calgary Olympic bid: IOC likes city’s legacy, including Saddledome, for 2026 

And what if Calgary ends up hosting the Olympics that same year?

“Then it could be a really interesting year in 2026 with lots to do,” Iveson said.

“It’s not for me to speak for provincial or federal governments but my understanding is they’re open to multiple events over the next decade… Whatever events are happening in Canada over the next 10 years, there’s room for everybody.

“The FIFA events are actually not anywhere near expensive as the Olympics,” the mayor added. “That’s one of the reasons our citizen panel recommended that we look at events like FIFA versus the big, multi-sport tournaments because cost-benefit-wise, it’s way better.”

READ MORE: Commonwealth Stadium would get real grass for World Cup year

As part of the submissions, the city would be required to sign three legally binding agreements, including a host city agreement outlining the commitments to host the event to the standards set by FIFA, a stadium agreement that outlines the obligations of the stadium and sets a preliminary rental fee as well as a training site agreement.

Cartmell said he believes the city has the infrastructure, transit system and other amenities in place to welcome the attendance that comes with the event.

“Between now and 2025, we’re only going to enhance that infrastructure.”

— With files from Global’s Julia Wong

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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