Ontario still deciding if it will help fund Toronto's 2026 World Cup bid
Published Wednesday, November 9, 2022 10:17AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 9, 2022 5:19PM EST
The Ontario government says it has not yet decided if it will foot part of the bill that Toronto is asking to host the men's FIFA World Cup in 2026.
"I'm a big soccer fan. I love soccer but let's take a look at it. We'll look at the finances, and hopefully, we'll be able to come up with an answer sooner than later," Premier Doug Ford said during an unrelated news conference in Bradford on Wednesday morning.
"I understand the clock is ticking."
Toronto was selected in June as one of the 16 host cities for the expanded 2026 tournament, which is being jointly hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico.
City staff initially estimated the cost of hosting several World Cup games was $290 million. However, this past summer, that number increased to $300 million due to rising inflation rates, staff said.
The city is hoping that the federal government and the province will pick up two-thirds of the total, or about $184 million.
Ford said Toronto's participation in the quadrennial soccer tournament was brought up during his recent meeting with Toronto Mayor John Tory.
"We haven't made a decision. I don't think the federal government's made a decision," he said.
The premier's comments came the same day as the FIFA World Cup trophy arrived in Toronto as part of the final leg of a 51-country global tour.
Tory and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie were among the dignitaries at the Pearson Airport to welcome the trophy.
Also in attendance were Stephanie Labbé, a former Canadian women's national team goalkeeper and the current general manager of women's soccer for the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club and former Canadian men's national team midfielder Dwayne De Rosario.
Speaking to reporters at the trophy ceremony, Tory said the two other levels of government have "expressed what I would call due diligence."
"The province is doing what I would expect it to do, just like the city is doing the same, and the federal government, which is we're making sure as we put budgets together to host the World Cup, those monies are going to be well-spent," he said.
Tory said hosting the biggest men’s soccer tournament in the world will result in “gigantic” results for the city, province and country. Previously, city staff estimated that the games will result in $307 million dollars of GDP impact, including the creation of 3,300 jobs.
The mayor added that the money will be spent on hiring people, including security and stadium upgrades. He also noted that being a host city will have reputational benefits.
"There'll be a huge return. Hotel rooms will be full. Restaurants will be full. People will be spending money here – thousands and thousands of visitors from all over the place," Tory said.
"I think you have to look at the positives of this. But that doesn't stop us all from having to do the due diligence that we have to do to make sure that public monies that are invested in putting on these World Cup games are spent wisely."
Canada is expected to host 10 games, which will be divided between the city and Vancouver. It has yet to be announced how many games will be played at BMO Field.
Meanwhile, the 14.5-inch tall trophy, which weighs just over 13 pounds, was later taken to BMO Field at Exhibition Place for a sold-out "fan activation" event where among other things, there was a VIP reception followed by a fireside chat with football icons.
The FIFA World Cup Tour, which is being put on by Coca-Cola and will see the trophy brought to all 32 countries that have qualified for this year's tournament, is happening just weeks before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar on November 20.
- with files from Chris Fox