Alberta funds Edmonton 2026 World Cup bid

The Alberta government has committed more than $100 million to support Edmonton’s bid to hold FIFA World Cup matches in 2026.

The province’s culture minister, Ron Orr, told CTV News Edmonton the city would receive $110 million.

“I think it will be a great event, I think it will be great for Alberta,” Orr said.

“This will be incredibly inspiring for a lot of young people.”

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi lobbied the province for weeks to get the money needed to convince FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, to play World Cup matches at Commonwealth Stadium in four years.

Toronto and Vancouver have secured funds to continue their bids but Montreal dropped out of the race.

Orr said there’s a “huge benefit” to hosting the World Cup.

“Clearly the hospitality industry, hotels, restaurants, the tourism industry, even the airlines, have looked forward and hoped we would be able to do this. I think it will bring a great deal of economic return to the province of Alberta.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

It’s unclear when FIFA will announce the host cities, though officials have been visiting North American candidates for evaluations.

FIFA officials were in Edmonton last November for Canada’s 2022 World Cup qualifying matches against Costa Rica and Mexico at a snowy Commonwealth Stadium.

Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief competitions and events officer, was generally positive about the city and venues but was to the point on the artificial turf at Commonwealth Stadium.

“Change it,” he told reporters. “We play the World Cup obviously on natural grass.”

The City of Edmonton launched a survey in August of 2020 to measure how Edmontonians felt about hosting part of the tournament.

Survey results showed 77 per cent of people in the Edmonton region supported a bid, the city said, up from 74 per cent in 2018.

FIFA is expected to choose up to 16 cities in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Matthew Black and Carlyle Fiset

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