Toronto wants to co-host the World Cup in 2026. But it will cost taxpayers at least $90 million

The City of Toronto plans to spend more than $90 million to host select FIFA World Cup matches when the tournament takes place in North America in 2026.

The city council will discuss full details at a meeting next week, but they are available in a staff report presented Wednesday at a meeting of Mayor John Tory’s executive committee.

Despite the high price of accommodation, city staff believe the tournament would inject $307 million back into the local economy.

“Hosting a 2026 World Cup game will attract global media attention and could have positive economic and cultural impacts for the city, while supporting recovery and reconstruction efforts,” the report said.

The proposal comes at a time when football fever is at an all-time high in Toronto. Canada’s National Men’s Team qualified for this year’s World Cup with a thrilling win over Jamaica at BMO Field on Sunday. It’s the first time since 1986 that Canada has taken part in the tournament and several of the team’s stars hail from the Greater Toronto Area.

All of this makes the prospect of the city hosting games in 2026 even more exciting.

Fans celebrate Canada’s win over Jamaica in the 2022 World Cup qualifier on Sunday. The City of Toronto is considering a bid to host some World Cup matches in 2026. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The proposed price for hosting would be $73.8 million, plus an additional $20 million in support resources, according to the report.

But in addition to the $307 million projected to recoup, the city also plans to create 3,300 new jobs and welcome around 174,000 overnight visitors during the tournament. These visitors would represent an additional $3.5 million in tax revenue.

Regarding post-pandemic economic recovery, the report also states, “The event will support recovery in hard-hit sectors, such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment.”

The city’s bid follows a previous bid by Canada, Mexico and the United States to jointly host the 2026 tournament. That bid was accepted in 2018.

If selected, Toronto could host up to five of the 10 games expected to be staged in Canada. There will be 80 games in total across 16 North American cities.

Members of the Canadian men’s national soccer team pose for a photo after earning a berth at the 2022 World Cup. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

FIFA plans to select the host cities in May.

In total, hosting those games in Toronto would cost $290 million, according to the report.

With Toronto covering around a third of that, the report also highlights that the federal and provincial governments have been asked to cover the other two-thirds for a combined amount of $177 million – similar to the arrangement struck to host the Pan American Games and 2015 Parapan Americans.

Staff used the Pan Am Games as an example of Toronto’s ability to plan and stage major sporting events like the World Cup.

“The World Cup legacy will be developed with a view to civic engagement, improved leisure facilities and environmental sustainability,” the report said.

James C. Tibbs