B.C. landing World Cup games could mean opportunities for Vancouver Island with FIFA: Horgan

B.C. landing World Cup games could mean opportunities for Vancouver Island with FIFA: Horgan

World Cup games aren’t being played on Vancouver Island in 2026, but that doesn’t mean we’re being left out.

Vancouver was named last week as one of the host cities for the FIFA 2026 World Cup that is being jointly hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico.

While on Donnie and Dhali The Team that aired on CHEK Thursday morning, Premier John Horgan said his government province is estimating $1 billion could be coming into the province as a result of Vancouver hosting some 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 in the range of a billion dollars and that is significant,” said Horgan. “It won’t just be in the Lower Mainland as well. There are opportunities on the Island as well with FIFA, with training facilities. There are opportunities in the Interior. This is something we wanted to be a part of back in 2018, it just didn’t work based on what FIFA was selling at that time.”

Horgan did not elaborate what he meant when he said there could be opportunities on Vancouver Island with regards to FIFA and training facilities.

The B.C. 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 biggest single-sporting competition.

“Our government has a responsibility to ensure that B.C. taxpayers are not on the hook for hidden costs,” Lisa Beare, the province’s tourism minister at the time said in a statement.

Horgan said on Donnie and Dhali and The Team that back in 2018, things were much different than they are today, having only been elected Premier and having formed a minority government about a year earlier.

“I am a huge sports fan and I was excited about the prospect of FIFA when we came to government, but at that moment we had just arrived,” Horgan explained. “We were a minority parliament, we didn’t know the state of the finances, we didn’t know what the consequences of signing on to an agreement with FIFA would be and at that time we were guaranteed two games, maybe three and there were a whole host of other requirements that FIFA put in front of us.”

Fortunately for soccer fans, B.C. changed its tune earlier this year and decided that it wanted Vancouver to be among the cities to host World Cup games. Horgan explained that there had been ongoing discussions with FIFA for more than a year-and-a-half and FIFA wanted Vancouver to be a part of the World Cup.

“FIFA came to us, they said ‘they really want Vancouver to be part of this, how can we get there?”

The driving factors behind the shift were the pandemic and better terms between the province and FIFA, according to Horgan.

“We’ve come out of a global pandemic where our tourism industry has been absolutely crippled as a result of no travel and having to stay in place,” said Horgan, adding. “We are guaranteed five games, maybe six, during the tournament, five friendlies, which is a big big deal and we have been negotiated terms and use of the stadium that we weren’t able to negotiate at the time we had available to us back in 2018.”

The Premier did not say what the exact cost of hosting the games would be on Thursday but noted that there will be a “cost involved” and that the province is going to “find ways to mitigate” it. However, earlier this year, tourism minister Melanie Mark, told CBC News the estimated cost is between $240 million and $260 million.

Horgan did say that he was pleased that Vancouver is among the host cities, which also includes Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, and glad his government changed their mind.

“We got to a place where we were able to make a bid and we were successful. I am very excited about that. The tourism industry is excited, sports fans are excited, the City of Vancouver is excited,” he said.

Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!