Vancouver 'extremely disappointed' B.C. is no longer part of World Cup bid
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018 1:59PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 14, 2018 7:40PM PDT
The City of Vancouver says it's "extremely disappointed" it is no longer being considered as part of North America's unified bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
"We believe hosting the biggest sporting event on earth would have offered significant economic benefits," the city said in a statement Wednesday.
"Vancouver remains a city with exceptional sports hosting history and we look forward to working the Province and our Sport Hosting Vancouver team to identify future international sporting events that bring positive economic and cultural impact to Vancouver."
The city also said it has been told by Canada Soccer and the bid committee that the North American bid will move forward without Vancouver or the province.
On Wednesday, B.C. Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare told reporters the province had submitted a second bid Tuesday night, which the North American bid committee rejected Wednesday morning.
According to the minister, negotiations over the province's financial concerns had broken down.
"There's very large concerns with the bid," Beare said, citing unknown security and infrastructure costs as well as FIFA's ability to change the stadium agreement at its discretion.
"The bid committee was unable to negotiate and to address those concerns and to give us the answers that we needed and so they rejected our bid this morning," she said, adding that the government, which owns BC Place, is "not willing to put B.C. taxpayers on the hook for unknown costs."
In a statment, the ministry said B.C.'s "door remains open" to bringing the beautiful game to BC Place should the bid committee reconsider.
The news comes a day after the B.C. government said it was reluctant to accept FIFA's financial conditions, even though the federal government officially announced its support for the joint bid.
"I have a higher obligation than just being a soccer fan. I have a higher obligation than just wanting to see World Cup soccer in Vancouver," Premier John Horgan told reporters Tuesday. "I have to make sure that taxpayers aren't on the hook for unknown costs at the whim of FIFA. I'm just not prepared to sign off on that and nor is the minister of finance."
News of the rejected bid is drawing harsh criticism from members across the aisle who say the government should have done a better job of keep British Columbians informed.
"It's tremendously disappointing. When we asked the question just yesterday, the minister said that they were still looking at it—there's still potential," said Liberal MLA Jas Johal. "Somehow, between us asking that question in the house yesterday and to today, they've somehow decided that they're not going to move forward."
Johal also questioned the timing of the news.
"I don't understand when cities like Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton are moving forward, what British Columbia is doing by not moving forward," he said. “What is that British Columbia sees that is concerning? Perhaps they should be sharing that with taxpayers."
Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are up against Morocco to host the world's most widely viewed sporting event. Their unified bid has to be submitted by the end of the week, and FIFA's decision is expected in mid-June.
Vancouver was one of four candidate cities in Canada, along with Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto.
On Tuesday, Canada promised to immediately commit up to $5 million if the bid wins.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Scott Hurst