The mayor of Canada's most populous city says he wants Toronto to be among the North American cities to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
John Tory released a statement early Monday supporting a city staff report that recommends Toronto enter into agreements to be a host city in a joint bid for the games by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Canada joined the shared proposal – branded "United 2026" – in December, with news that if the countries are chosen, Canada and Mexico would get 10 games each and the United States would host the other 60.
Toronto is among four potential Canadian host cities, along with Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal. If chosen, Toronto would host three to five games, according to the staff report filed Thursday.
"Hosting the FIFA World Cup is a once in a generation opportunity to showcase Toronto to the world," Tory said in the statement, noting that the city had hosted the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and the Invictus Games in the past.
"It is clear that Toronto and Torontonians are ready to be one of the host cities for this iconic event."
In order to be officially selected, Toronto has to enter into several irrevocable agreements by Feb. 5, the staff report said.
It estimates the cost of co-hosting the games would be between $30-million and $45-million, and recommends the city sign bid agreements on the condition that costs are shared between the city, the province and the federal government.
It said there would be "very limited financial and other risks" associated with making a bid, because no new facilities would be required – staff recommended the city's BMO Field as a stadium, supplemented with extra seating. Smaller soccer fields in the city could be used as training and practice facilities, the report said.
"It builds on Toronto's successful track record of hosting the world at major events, without most of the impacts on residents since there are few games and sites involved," the report reads.
The proposal from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will be submitted to FIFA on March 16 and FIFA will announce whether it accepts the bid in June.
The final host country – or countries – will be announced in 2020, with host cities selected in 2021.
Morocco is the other country bidding to host the event, which will involve 48 countries competing in 80 matches.
Canada hosted the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015. Mexico has hosted two World Cups, and the 1994 World Cup in the United States remains the most attended tournament in FIFA's history.