FIFA will announce their 2026 World Cup venues on June 16, with Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver being the three Canadian options waiting to hear their name.
A total of 22 candidate cities have raised their hand to host games for the 48-team expanded men’s tournament hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
While the number of venues was initially set at 16, FIFA’s head of tournaments and events said the final number has not yet been determined.
The announcement was made at a press conference in New York.
The American options are Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC/Baltimore.
Mexico’s candidate cities are Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
“In line with the previous stages of the FIFA World Cup 2026 selection process, each announcement is made in the best interest of football and taking into account the needs of all stakeholders involved as we aim to lay the foundations for the future tournament in all three countries successfully delivered,” said Vancouver-based Victor Montagliani, who is also FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President, in a statement.
“We can only express our appreciation to all cities and the three member associations for their efforts and commitment to this process.”
Vancouver enters, Montreal retires
FIFA selected the North American bid to co-host in June 2018, marking the first time three districts had joined forces to host a flagship event in men’s football.
The original plan was for Canada and Mexico to host 10 games each with the 60 others in the US, including all games from the quarterfinals onwards.
A possible tournament scenario would be an opening day triple header with games in Toronto, Mexico City and a venue in the United States.
Montreal pulled out last August after the Quebec provincial government withdrew its support citing cost overruns that would have been difficult to justify to taxpayers. It was replaced in April by Vancouver, which made an initial bid in 2017 and withdrew in 2018, with Premier John Horgan citing the undisclosed cost of hosting the event.
The provincial government changed its mind last summer when Melanie Mark, BC’s Secretary of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sports, said hosting the event was a unique opportunity for football fans and the province’s tourism sector.
Vancouver hosted nine games during the 2015 Women’s World Cup, including the final, which drew more than 50,000 fans. Edmonton also hosted games in 2015.
BMO area needs to be expanded
Toronto was not part of the 2015 Women’s World Cup but hosted the Pan American Games.
BMO Field needs expansion to meet FIFA minimum capacity of over 40,000. Toronto FC President Bill Manning said these plans had already been submitted as part of Toronto’s bid process.
Major League Soccer Club is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts and Marlies.
“The stadium will be temporarily expanded,” Manning said on Friday. “One of the things that we’re still going to look at as a company is a requirement to maybe keep it after the World Cup.
“Over the next five years, part of our plan is to grow TFC. And the World Cup coming here is such a big focus for us and the city. I just think it’s not just going to be in Toronto, but I think it’s going to transcend for the sport in Canada when we have the opportunity to host the best teams and the best players in the world. BMO Field will be a big part of that.”
The expansion would be at the north and south ends of the lakefront stadium. Temporary grandstands at BMO Field allowed 40,148 to attend the January 2017 Centennial Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings.
Seventeen US stadiums in 16 territories remain in the 2026 Candidate City, with the Los Angeles area submitting both SoFi Stadium in Inglewood and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, site of the 1994 World Cup Finals.
Chicago, Minneapolis and Arizona all dropped out in March 2018 after city officials described it as onerous financial demands from FIFA. Then Charlotte, North Carolina; Las Vegas; Salt Lake City; and Tampa, Florida were cut. FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland retired in April.
Candidates, cities and stadiums
Edmonton, Commonwealth Stadium; Toronto, BMO Field; Vancouver, BC Place Stadium.
Arlington, Texas, AT&T Stadium; Atlanta, Mercedes Benz Stadium; Baltimore, M&T Bank Stadium; Cincinnati, Paul Brown Stadium; Denver, Empower Field at Mile High; East Rutherford, New Jersey, MetLife Stadium; Foxborough, Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium; Houston, NRG Stadium; Inglewood, California, SoFi Stadium; Kansas City, Missouri, Arrowhead Stadium; Miami Gardens, Florida, Hard Rock Stadium; Nashville, Tennessee, Nissan Stadium; Orlando, Florida, Camping World Stadium; Pasadena, California, Rose Bowl; Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Field; Santa Clara, California, Levi’s Stadium; Seattle, Lumenfeld.