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60% of British Columbians say hosting FIFA World Cup games ‘not worth’ price tag

Despite Team Canada’s recent success in the Copa America tournament and the ongoing UEFA Euro championship, many British Columbians do not support the coming FIFA World Cup.

A recent poll by non-profit Angus Reid Institute found that 60 per cent of British Columbians and 61 per cent of residents in Metro Vancouver said the World Cup games in Vancouver in 2026 are “not worth it.”

They said the price tag, which is now pegged between $483 and $581 million, is far too great for just seven matches.

Initially, the province said it would cost between $240 million and $260 million in 2022. That number doubled in the latest project which was in April 2024.

“When we got the initial numbers, it was before we had a full understanding of the requirements, we didn’t know how many games we were going to get, there were a lot of things that have changed since that original estimate,” B.C. Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Minister Lana Popham said in April.

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“But when the government makes decisions we look through the lense of making sure we are keeping costs low and we are maximizing benefits … We feel very confident what we have put forward today is accurate, and we believe taxpayers will be getting the most for that money.”

Click to play video: 'Will the economic benefits of Vancouver’s FIFA World Cup payoff?'

Will the economic benefits of Vancouver’s FIFA World Cup payoff?

While around 60 per cent of British Columbians said the World Cup matches will be too expensive, 21 per cent said it would be worth it. The final 19 per cent of those polled said they are not sure or couldn’t say.

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The tournament is expected to bring more than 350,000 visitors to the region for the world-renowned tournament.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim has called the tournament a “massive, massive opportunity” for Vancouver to market itself in the global competition for tourist dollars.

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“It’s going to be a month-long commercial, the whole globe is going to be watching Vancouver, so I can’t overstate how amazing this opportunity is,” he said.

The B.C. government said it expects the tournament’s gross costs to be offset by between $383 million and $436 million in revenues, including $116 million from the federal government.

“This contribution will support the operations and capital expenses of the Vancouver games, including upgrades to BC Place Stadium,” federal Minister of Sport and Physical Activity Carla Qualtrough said.

“This is a major win for Vancouver.”

Qualtrough said the federal government will also provide services including border services, security and intelligence and work visas.

The B.C. government is estimating an additional $230 million in revenue from the major event’s municipal and regional district tax introduced in the City of Vancouver in February 2023 and between $37 million and $90 million in revenue from sources including facility rental fees and the FIFA commercial revenue program.

Those projected revenues would leave B.C. on the hook for net costs of between $100 million and $145 million.

Back in April, the announcement of the prices doubled led to condemnation from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation. It gave the update a “red card.”

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“It’s unacceptable that the province and the city have more than doubled the costs to host just a few soccer matches,” said Carson Binda, the group’s B.C. director.

“The more money that’s wasted on FIFA, the less money that can support British Columbians.”

For comparison, the CTF said the money going to the tournament could pay the salaries of 885 teachers for a decade or build 17 schools.

— With files from Richard Zussman

Click to play video: 'B.C. minister on contributing costs of Vancouver’s FIFA World Cup'

B.C. minister on contributing costs of Vancouver’s FIFA World Cup

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

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