'It will put Toronto on the map:' Tory defends nearly $300M cost of hosting World Cup games in 2026
Published Wednesday, April 6, 2022 10:57AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 6, 2022 12:30PM EDT
City council will decide this week whether it will spend more than $90 million hosting up to five games during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The expanded 48-team tournament has already been awarded jointly to Canada, the United States and Mexico, with FIFA expected to formally announce the 16 host cities next month.
A staff report going before council this week pegs the total cost of hosting games in Toronto at $290 million, with the provincial and federal governments picking up approximately two-thirds of the tab.
It’s a big increase on the $30 to $45 million estimate provided by staff in 2018 when the city first expressed an interest in hosting games.
Staff, however, argue that the economic spinoff from hosting the world’s largest sporting event would still outweigh the cost.
They estimate that the tournament would result in $307 million dollars of GDP impact, including the creation of 3,300 jobs.
It would also bring 174,000 overnight visitors to the city and generate 3,300 jobs, staff say.
“It will put Toronto on the map,” Mayor John Tory told reporters at city hall on Wednesday morning.
“This is the biggest sporting event in the world and I think for us to be a part of it I think the vast majority of the people of Toronto will be excited about that and they will see the business sense in it.”
The proposed cost to Toronto of hosting the World Cup would be nearly $74 million, plus another $20 million in resources.
Some of the bigger line items include $63.7 million in capital work to prepare BMO Field to host games and $41.2 million to build training facilities for visiting teams.
As a host city, Toronto would also be responsible for staging a fan fest at an estimated cost of more than $17 million.
Speaking with reporters, Tory acknowledged the scope of the investment but argued that “every penny of that money will be returned,” mostly in the form of increased tax revenue to the federal and provincial governments.
“You have to plan these things quite far out and I can’t imagine the biggest city in our country, the most diverse city in the world not participating in the global sporting event that it is going to come to Canada regardless,” he said. “I think it is going to be exciting, it will be positive and all the money we invest will come back to other governments and more.”
If Toronto is chosen as a host city, staff say that the capital work at BMO Field would likely begin sometime in 2024.
They say that the temporary expansion of the stadium to host additional fans would then begin sometime in 2025.
BMO Field currently has a capacity of 30,000 for soccer but FIFA currently requires that all World Cup facilities be large enough to accommodate at least 45,000 fans.