Toronto World Cup costs go up again, will property taxpayers be on the hook? |


The cost of hosting World Cup matches in Toronto has risen again and now sits at almost $100 million more than initially estimated, with the competition still more than two years away.

A Monday report written by City of Toronto staff now pegs the cost of hosting six World Cup matches at $380 million. Last year, the city estimated the competition would cost about $290 million.

The report said that “as planning requirements become more defined” the cost estimates had risen.

Some of the highest costs for the competition include $174 million for “tournament operations” and a further $118.5 million for capital improvements.

Toronto is one of 16 host cities across Canada, Mexico and the United States that will hold games during the 2026 World Cup.

Canada’s largest city will host the country’s opening match during the world soccer competition, as part of its allocation of five group stage matches and one knock-out round game. The matches will be played at BMO Field near Exhibition Place.

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City staff have repeatedly said they hope to see the cost of hosting shared between all three levels of government.

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The Ford government recently committed a total of $97 million to pay for the competition, with several strings attached. The federal government has committed to “supporting” Toronto in its plans to host but is yet to publish a number.

As costs rise, however, it is unclear how much of the new funding needs will fall on property taxpayers.

Asked by Global News if Ontario would consider increasing its $97 million commitment, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport said it was a “hard cap.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has previously raised concerns about the cost of the competition. Justifying a much-delayed decision to fund Toronto’s bid in 2023, Ford said increasing costs were a concern.

“Every day this cost keeps going up and up and up,” Ford said. “And I’m a big soccer fan — I love soccer — but let’s take a look at it, we’ll look at the finances and hopefully we will be able to come up with an answer sooner than later.”

The federal government did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, who was lukewarm in her support for the World Cup before winning her election, recently said she was excited by the number of games the city would host.

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“As Mayor of Toronto, I am thrilled to see our city chosen as a host for six matches in the FIFA World Cup 26,” Chow previously said.

“With open arms, Toronto will welcome the world to experience the rich diversity and dynamism of our multicultural city.”

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) has been tapped by the city to lead the project with a controversial contract that indemnified the sports giant against any cost overruns.

A letter of intent from the city to MLSE made it the project manager for stadium upgrades, licensing and selling host city commercial rights and marketing the event.

The city also promised that MLSE will be made “whole” financially by the city to deliver the project, and also agrees to “fully indemnify and hold MLSE harmless” for various performance aspects, including failure to complete construction or delays.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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