BC Place stadium would have needed undefined improvements, likely including new turf, to host World Cup soccer games. (Ryan Adams/Wikimedia Commons)

B.C. Place will miss out on World Cup soccer celebration

Premier John Horgan doesn’t ‘regret for a minute’ pulling out

World Cup soccer won’t be coming to B.C. in 2026, after a joint North American bid won the right to host the tournament.

The B.C. government dropped out of the bidding in March, citing unknown costs due to possible upgrades to B.C. Place stadium to meet the demands of FIFA, the World Cup governing body.

Tourism Minister Lisa Beare said Wednesday she is happy that the North America bid was successful, but the province made the right decision.

Premier John Horgan was in Grand Forks Wednesday to announce a new disaster relief fund for people forced from their homes.

“I do not regret for a minute the decision we made to withdraw any support for the bid, based on the lack of a final number from FIFA,” Horgan said. “We’re still not prepared to write a blank cheque for a soccer tournament that would not guarantee a specific number of games, would not guarantee the duration of the closing of B.C. Place and would not give us a final dollar figure.

“Now knowing that we need to put resources into places like Grand Forks and looking at a fire season ahead of us, I think most taxpayers would be grateful for that decision,” Horgan said.

RELATED: B.C. dropped from Canada’s World Cup bid

The announcement of North America’s winning bid came Wednesday from Moscow, where Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup tournament.

“It was goose bumps, it was tears, cheering, it was unbelievable,” said Karina LeBlanc, two-time Olympic medal winning goaltender for Canada’s national women’s soccer team.

LeBlanc, who grew up in Maple Ridge B.C. and now plays professionally, was in Moscow for the decision. “It’s a game changer for our three countries, especially for Canada,” she said.

B.C. was dropped from the Canadian bid after the province refused to sign off on undefined upgrades that may have included putting natural grass turf in B.C. Place stadium.

B.C. Liberal tourism critic Jas Johal said the decision to drop out is a setback for tourism in B.C., the only province that couldn’t make a deal for the three-country bid. B.C. residents will have to “reserve a spot on the sofa instead of the stadium,” Johal said.

That leaves Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto in the running to host the 10 games that will be awarded to Canada. There is no guarantee all the cities will host games as plans for the World Cup tournament continue to unfold under FIFA control.

Just Posted

Only steps away: Gutsy Walk returns to Kelowna

The walk to cures for Crohn’s disease and colitis comes June 2

Sister of cancer victim cycles across Canada to raise awareness

Her journey started on May 14 and will end in early August

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to the Okanagan

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone Award Foundation charity weekend in Kelowna

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Update: Washed out South Okanagan road temporarily closed for assessment

A portion of Eastside Road, south of Penticton, appears to be crumbling into Skaha Lake

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Okanagan art gallery releases their theme

Fine arts painting will be the point of focus for this year’s event

South Okanagan search and rescue help injured climber

Search and rescue called on the assistance of a helicopter to help retrieve an injured hiker

Okanagan nature centre fundraiser goes western

Allan Brook’s Nature Centre Wine and Wild West Fundraiser is on July 6

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Firefighters respond to bus fire on Highway 1

Smoke in coach bus reported to have been caused by overheating, driver and passengers safe

Most Read