The countdown has begun in Canada, as the cities of Toronto and Vancouver prepare to host one of the most significant sporting events in the world: the 2026 FIFA World Cup. With just over two years until the tournament kicks off, local and provincial authorities find themselves in a race against time to ensure that both cities are ready to welcome thousands of fans and athletes from around the globe. From multi-million dollar stadium renovations to stringent security measures, preparations are already underway and promise to leave a lasting legacy in the two host cities.

Record Investments and Unprecedented Logistical Challenges

Organizing an event of the magnitude of the FIFA World Cup is no easy task, and the associated costs reflect the complexity of the challenge. In Toronto, it is estimated that the cost of hosting six matches, including the Canadian national team’s first-ever home game, will amount to an astronomical $380 million, a significant increase of $80 million compared to initial projections in 2022. Vancouver, on the other hand, faces an even greater challenge, with estimates placing the cost of hosting seven matches between $483 and $581 million, more than double what was projected two years ago.

Stadium Renovations and Large-Scale Infrastructure Improvements

One of the most pressing priorities is the renovation of the stadiums that will host the matches. In Toronto, the historic BMO Field, currently home to Toronto FC, will receive extensions at both ends to increase its capacity to 45,736 seats, in addition to temporarily changing its name to “Toronto Stadium” due to FIFA’s marketing regulations. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the iconic BC Place Stadium, built in 1983 but renovated for the 2010 Winter Olympics, will receive updates such as larger elevators, gender-neutral bathrooms, and improved Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as the installation of a natural grass pitch.

Security and Logistics: Key Challenges to Ensure a Seamless Event

Beyond physical renovations, security and logistics are crucial aspects that require careful planning and unprecedented coordination. Approximately one-third of the total cost in Toronto, around $126 million, will be allocated to police services and security measures, while in Vancouver, coordination is expected among more than 40 federal departments and agencies, including border services, intelligence, and work visas, to ensure a seamless event.

BC Place Stadium

Economic Benefits and Long-Term Legacy: The Reward for Investment

Despite the high costs, authorities in both cities are confident that the economic benefits and long-term legacy will far outweigh the investment. It is estimated that the World Cup will generate more than 3,500 direct jobs in Toronto and attract 300,000 visitors from outside the city, translating into a $393 million boost to the city’s gross domestic product and $456 million for the province of Ontario. In Vancouver, the event is expected to attract 350,000 fans and generate over $1 billion in tourism revenue in the five years following the tournament.

Opportunity for Tourism Development and City Branding on the Global Stage

Beyond the direct economic benefits, the 2026 FIFA World Cup represents a unique opportunity to promote Toronto and Vancouver as premier tourist destinations on the global stage. Local authorities hope that the event will help strengthen the brand of both cities and attract investment in tourism infrastructure, such as the construction of new hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers. Additionally, the unprecedented media exposure that comes with an event of this magnitude could boost long-term tourism and position the two cities as reference points for future international sporting events.

Sports Legacy and Commitment to Sustainability

In addition to economic benefits and brand promotion, the authorities in Toronto and Vancouver have expressed their commitment to leaving a lasting legacy in the realms of sports and sustainability. The stadium renovations and construction of new sports facilities are expected to foster the practice of soccer and other sports in local communities, inspiring future generations to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle. Moreover, both cities have implemented measures to minimize the environmental impact of the event, such as the use of renewable energy and waste reduction.

With state-of-the-art stadium renovations, reinforced security measures, and ambitious tourism development plans, both cities find themselves in the final stretch of their preparations to offer an unforgettable experience to visitors and leave a mark on the sports and tourism industry worldwide.