FIFA delegation visits Toronto to evaluate city as potential host venue for 2026 World Cup matches

Mayor John Tory says BMO Field could be expanded temporarily to accommodate more than 45,000 fans if Toronto is chosen as one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup.

Tory made the comment to reporters Monday afternoon after a press conference along with several FIFA officials who were in town to make a site visit as part of the selection process for the tournament.

FIFA has already awarded the 2026 World Cup to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States, but it has not yet determined which 16 cities will host matches.

Currently, Toronto is on a short list of 22 cities being considered to host games. Edmonton is the only other Canadian city on the list after Montreal withdrew its name from consideration over financial cost concerns.

“I just want to say that as part of our presentation we made a commitment that we would have the pitch in such a way that it meets FIFA requirements, which is a minimum of 45,000 (seats) I think we can do better than that.” Tory said during the press conference about BMO Field.

BMO Field currently has a capacity of 30,000 for football, but has expanded to host more than 40,000 fans in the past for several one-off events, including for the 2017 MLS Cup Final.

Nick Eaves, the Chief Venues and Operations Officer at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, told CTV News Toronto after the press conference that if Toronto got games as part of the 2026 World Cup, a similar path would be followed.

“Certainly the additional seating to meet that requirement would be temporary seating and as part of that temporary infrastructure we would also create other hospitality capacity that World Cup games require and there would be some other more permanent infrastructure upgrades, some things fans wouldn’t see,” he said. “But the seats themselves would be temporary. We’ve done it several times for the 2017 outdoor classic, for the Gray Cup, and for the MLS Championship game, so we know who should do it. ”

Toronto was the last site visit

FIFA officials have already visited all 21 cities considered to host matches during the 2026 World Cup and the trip to Toronto marked the final visit to the venue as part of the selection process.

Victor Montagliani, vice-president of FIFA and president of CONCACAF, told reporters that the presentation the delegation received on Monday “was not only an example of what is needed” but also contained many details about football for the city.

“Football has been here for a long time, but it’s clearly gone to another level I would say in the last 10 years and it was all clear in their presentation,” he said. “It was very thorough and excellent and of course we have to do our due diligence and will continue to do so, but it was a pleasure to be here.”

FIFA officials have said they plan to make a final decision on the host city list in the first or second quarter of 2022.

Officials estimate that choosing the World Cup host city could result in more than $330 million in economic spin-off for the Greater Toronto Area.

However, so far, no estimate has been made of the cost of hosting World Cup matches in Toronto.

Those costs are expected to include the improvements to BMO Field and a number of other city facilities that would be used as training venues for visiting teams.

“I can only tell you that the amount involved in this in terms of investment is not insignificant, but these will be legacies that will be here for people to play football and do other things in the years after the World Cup,” he said. Tory. “I can also only say that whatever we do here, we wouldn’t have made an offer without our strong belief and my strong commitment to making sure it’s done in a financially sensible way. I’m so optimistic that when the plans are finalized, people will see that this isn’t one of those events that will put an unnecessary burden on them because it’s a partnership and because we’re going to do it with some caution, but we will do it first class.”

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