Edmonton's 2026 FIFA bid goes forward
Edmonton is one of four Canadian cities bidding for the international soccer event
Edmonton is officially vying to host the men's FIFA World Cup in 2026.
City council voted Tuesday to join Mexico and the United States in a group bid to host the international soccer event.
Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are the other Canadian cities in the running.
Edmonton hosted part of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015. Mayor Don Iveson said that was key in proving the city's ability to manage a major soccer event.
"We've got a great track record, a good relationship with Soccer Canada and with FIFA," Iveson said after council voted in favour of submitting the bid.
"I think we'd be in a good position to have a number of significant matches here."
The city will apply for provincial and federal funding. Some of that money could go toward upgrading Commonwealth Stadium — a project that will need to be done in the near future.
"We have to spend at least millions on a stadium anyway over the next 10 years," Iveson said.
"If we can get help with some of those stadium costs, I think we could actually wind up ahead overall."
Cost not clear
A report in front of city council says Canada Soccer estimates it would cost between $35 and $55 million to host the event.
Neither federal nor provincial governments have "committed support for the event," the report adds, but all four Canadian cities plan to ask for a multi-party agreement with Ottawa and the provinces.
Councillors were concerned about the costs and risks related to hosting the event.
Ben Henderson was relieved to hear all cities are on the same page.
"That's a huge piece of the puzzle in terms of us being able to deal with some of the risks."
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A reliable estimate won't be available until the city knows how many games would be played in Edmonton, Iveson said.
FIFA standards may determine if modifications are needed to the stadium, such as changing the fields from artificial to natural turf.
"In a 50-year-old stadium, you'd need to eventually upgrade those things as the international requirements change."
"Some things we'd have to do anyway and some other things — that would be a bonus."
Canada is anticipated to have up to three host cities for the tournament.
The united bid committee will submit its application by March 16; the successful pitch will be announced by FIFA in June. The final host cities will be announced in 2021.