The legacy of hosting the Women's World Cup in Edmonton

It's the biggest prize in women's soccer. Edmonton is one of the six cities hosting the best players in the world. But in a weeks time, what legacy will it leave behind?

From civic pride to new turf, Edmontonians are taking stock of hosting the tournament

After two years of planning, Trisa Zimmerman is in the home stretch with only three more FIFA Women's World Cup games to oversee. (Adrienne Lamb)

Kevin Kobi describes the atmosphere as electric.

His stadium bowl was brimming with 53,058 fans, awash in red and white for the first game of the tournament back on June 6th. 
Edmonton's success in co-hosting the 2015 Women's World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium puts the city is a good position to be a winning host city, the mayor says. (Chris Martin)

Now as the international sporting event heads into the quarterfinals and the last week of play, the supervisor of major events and operations at Commonwealth Stadium is taking stock.

Kobi first rattles off the obvious — civic pride, positive international press, young players seeing their stars in person.

Then there's the busy local bars and restaurants and booked-up hotels, but Kobi says to get a true tally of the legacy of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup you have to look down.

"The budget for the replacement of the turf at Commonwealth stadium was $800,000, an amount split 50/50 with the national organization committee and the City of Edmonton."

That turf needed to be replaced in the next three years anyway, Kobi said.

"Once the tournament is over we have a piece of equipment that removes the paint that's on the field now and then we'll paint football lines on the field, so we'll be ready to roll for the first Edmonton Eskimo home game on July 9th."

Soccer complex gets new turf

But Commonwealth isn't the only surface gleaming with green.

Trisa Zimmerman looks across the open space of the Edmonton Soccer Complex, at 149th Avenue and 142nd Street.
This Edmonton Soccer Complex field at 149th Avenue and 142nd Street has new turf, thanks to the Women's World Cup. (Adrienne Lamb)

The FIFA Edmonton venue general manager points to field #12 with its new artificial turf, a training site for the Women's World Cup, paid for by FIFA.

After the tournament, young Edmonton players will be able to scrimmage on the same turf as their idols once did, in the footsteps of the likes of Christine Sinclair and Karina LeBlanc.

"For us, in Edmonton, I think we can be really proud of the legacy left in the community," Zimmerman said.

She said Edmonton set the tone for national pride and provided momentum in the opening game, momentum many hope will continue into the final week of of the tournament with just eight teams remaining.

Today the Canadian squad faces off against England in Vancouver, both vying for a semifinal spot.

In Edmonton thousands are expected to fill Commonwealth Stadium at 2 p.m. MT for the match between Australia and Japan.

"With any luck, and I certainly don't want to jinx things, we'll see Canada back here on Canada Day," says Kobi.

For more on soccer, watch this week's edition of Our Edmonton.

CBC TV's weekly magazine show runs Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at 11 a.m. and Monday at 1 p.m.


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