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'It's absurd': Toronto taxpayers face even-bigger bill as FIFA World Cup costs climb

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Toronto’s cost of hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup continues to climb, with the latest price tag hitting $380 million -- $80 million more than the estimate in place when the city was named a host two years ago.

“For me, it's important that we are transparent, that we are realistic,” Mayor Olivia Chow responded Monday from Ottawa. “No one anticipated the rate of inflation of today.”

Inflationary uncertainty is among the factors cited by city staff in the latest cost estimate, along with updated price estimates, vendor quotes, and safety and security requirements.

Moreover, Toronto was awarded six games as part of the joint bid with 15 other cities – one more match than officials here had accounted for.

“It’s unfortunate that it's gone up,” Deputy Mayor Mike Colle told CTV News Toronto Monday. “But I think [the tournament] is a positive contribution to this city, and we're putting this city on the world map.”

Toronto will host the first-ever FIFA World Cup game in Canada, featuring Team Canada’s opening match, on June 12, 2026. Toronto city staff began reviewing planning assumptions and cost estimates earlier this month when the official match schedule was released.

“It’s absurd,” Toronto Councillor Josh Matlow said Monday. “The agreement that [former Mayor] John Tory oversaw didn't just drop the ball. He scored on his own goal. The amount of money that Toronto is putting into this, versus other levels of government, is embarrassing.”

The province has pledged $97 million toward Toronto’s hosting costs, and while the federal government has committed to support the city, the funding is still being finalized.

“The economic benefit is the real piece here,” Toronto Budget Chief Shelley Carroll said Monday. “There’s a sort of unquantifiable benefit to putting on one of these events. and putting the city on the world stage.”

Previous staff estimates pegged the gross domestic product benefit of the tournament as $392 million to Toronto, along with $456 million to the province.

BMO Field in Toronto is pictured on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsaro

“The reality is we can't pay our bills on the GDP,” Toronto Councillor Brad Bradford said. “It will be the provincial and the federal government that will be the large benefactors of that additional revenue spent over the course of World Cup.”

“I think we've got to find a way of, you know, mitigating this impact by getting help from our [government] partners,” Colle said.

City staff, meanwhile, have floated the idea of directing revenue from the municipal hotel tax to the World Cup bill, and also intend to explore private-sector sponsorships.

The City has already allotted more than $65 million toward design and upgrades at BMO Field, where the matches will be held, along with $34 million for the training fields and facilities at Centennial Park. 

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