There won’t be any World Cup games on Vancouver Island in 2026, but that doesn’t mean we’re locked out.
Vancouver was named last week as one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup jointly hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Speaking on Donnie and Dhali The Team, which aired on CHEK Thursday morning, Prime Minister John Horgan said his governing province estimates $1 billion could come into play as a result of Vancouver hosting a number of games. He also hinted that there could be some “opportunities” for Vancouver Island when it comes to FIFA and training facilities.
“We estimate it could be on the order of a billion dollars, and that’s significant,” Horgan says. “It won’t just be in the Lower Mainland. There are also opportunities on the island with FIFA, with training facilities. There are opportunities in the interior. This is something we wanted to be a part of in 2018, it just didn’t work based on what FIFA was selling at the time.”
Horgan didn’t elaborate on what he meant when he said there could be opportunities on Vancouver Island regarding FIFA and training facilities.
The BC government in 2018 withdrew Vancouver from a list of potential cities that could see games as a result of Canada, the United States and Mexico’s winning joint bid for the world’s largest single-sport competition.
“Our government has a responsibility to ensure that BC’s taxpayers are not caught out for hidden costs,” Lisa Beare, the then province’s tourism minister, said in a statement.
Horgan said of Donnie and Dhali and The Team that things were very different in 2018 than they are now, having only been elected prime minister and forming a minority government about a year earlier.
“I’m a huge sports fan and I was excited about the prospect of FIFA when we joined the government, but at that point we had just arrived,” explains Horgan. “We were a minority parliament, we didn’t know the state of the finances, we didn’t know what the consequences would be of signing an agreement with FIFA and at that point we were assured of two games, maybe three and there were a whole lot of them. series of other demands FIFA set us.”
Fortunately for football fans, BC changed its mind earlier this year and decided that Vancouver would be one of the cities where World Cup games are held. Horgan explained that there had been ongoing discussions with FIFA for over a year and a half and that FIFA wanted Vancouver to participate in the World Cup.
“FIFA came to us, they said ‘they really want Vancouver to be a part of this, how can we get there?’
The drivers behind the shift, Horgan said, were the pandemic and better conditions between the province and FIFA.
“We have come out of a global pandemic where our tourism industry is absolutely crippled as a result of not traveling and having to stay put,” Horgan said, adding. “We are guaranteed five games, maybe six, during the tournament, five friendlies, which is a big deal and we negotiated the terms and use of the stadium that we couldn’t negotiate at the time we were available for us in 2018.”
The prime minister did not say what the exact cost of hosting the games on Thursday would be, but noted that there are “costs” involved and the province “will find ways to reduce it”. Earlier this year, Tourism Secretary Melanie Mark told CBC News the estimated cost is between $240 million and $260 million.
Horgan said he was pleased to have Vancouver as one of the host cities, which also included Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, and that his government had changed its mind.
“We got to a place where we could make an offer and we were successful. I’m very excited about that. The tourism industry is excited, sports fans are excited, the city of Vancouver is excited,” he said.
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