News / Edmonton

Council to make final decision on hosting FIFA 2026 World Cup

Some councillors have expressed concerns with the $35 to $55 million potential price tag

Edmonton soccer fans could have something to get excited about if council moves forward with a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Edmonton.

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Edmonton soccer fans could have something to get excited about if council moves forward with a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Edmonton.

It will take some convincing to get city councillors on board with a proposal to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Edmonton.

On Tuesday’s council meeting, administration will bring forward recommendations that came out of a private meeting after councillors were concerned with the $35 to $55 million price tag.

“The pros side of this is reputational and branding of the city internationally, filling hotels and restaurants and generating a ton of excitement locally,” said Ward 6 Coun. Scott McKeen.

“But at a cost,” he added.

He said the number administration provided to council was too high and they had to consider taxpayer’s dollars.

Councillors were also concerned that if they realize the city is not ready to host the event after submitting a request, they will not be able to back out.

“We are being asked to sign on the dotted line and if we do we can’t get out,” Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson said at Wednesday's community and public services committee meeting.

Administration confirmed it would a national submission. Canada is expected to have up to three host cities, with council expected to make a decision by Jan. 24

Canada Soccer, which is part of the United Bid Committee, is working alongside USA and Mexico to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to North America. Once council approves of the submission, a joint bid will be sent to FIFA on Mar. 16.

In July, 2017 Canada Soccer invited Edmonton to respond to an expression of interest to be a host city for the international soccer event that ranks on par with the Olympics.

“Council will have to deal with that on (Tuesday) ... if it continues with that bid,” McKeen said.

“FIFA as we heard, they don’t fool around ... They hold all the cards. But I think it’s compelling for us," he added.

McKeen says because Edmonton has had successful soccer events in the past, they will have a good chance of being selected.

The concern would be “any legal challenge from FIFA” in case the city decides to back out.

FIFA is expected to announce the succesful bid in June 2018, with the final host cities announced in 2021.

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