Exciting times. Toronto and BMO Field, Canada’s national soccer stadium, is guaranteed one Canadian men’s national team match at the 2026 FIFA World Cup and five other games.
Canada’s opener will take place on June 12, followed by four other group stage matches and one round-of-32 fixture, for a total of six World Cup games. Do you think Drake had something to do with that?
CanMNT boasts an excellent record at BMO Field, having won 11 games, drawn nine, and lost only two (Chile 2-0 in 2010 and Jamaica 3-2 in 2023.) It should be a good omen to start their World Cup campaign in the friendly confines of the Toronto FC’s home ground.
It will be exciting to see the World Cup in Toronto. I missed out on the 2007 U-20 World Cup as I made the mistake of taking a class over that summer. Thankfully, I’ll be available to attend these matches in Toronto. Is it wrong to tell my boss that I’ll be sick two years in advance?
Sharing this experience with the people that I’ve gotten to know through the Toronto and area football community will be special. Thankfully most, if not all of them, are Canada supporters! Think of the possibilities of the opening match opponent; England, France, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, South Korea, Cameroon, Mali, Ivory Coast, Nigeria. The list is endless!
More importantly, I can share this experience with my kids. One of my sons has been a TFC supporter since he was three and a CanMNT fan since 2019 after their victory over the United States on my birthday (what a great present!). Fun fact: my kids are still eligible to play for England – thanks to their grandmother. But I digress; they’re Canadian boys and will be there cheering arm in arm with their dad. By that point Canada Soccer should have some consistency… right? RIGHT?!?!
Toronto is the most culturally diverse city in the world, boasting a long history of being a hub for new immigrants to the country. In fact, the BBC Radio anointed Toronto the most diverse city in the world. People from all over the world have settled in this great city and add to its rich and diverse mosaic. Within a 15 minute drive (with good traffic) of each other, you can visit Little Italy, Portugal Village, Little Poland, and Koreatown. If you’re lazy, just hang out in Kensington Market for the food. Toronto is already well-equipped as a metropolitan city and will be more than welcoming to players and supporters from around the world. That’s what we love about our city — not what makes us different, but what brings us together. Football.
Here’s a bit of a dose of reality: BMO Field only holds around 32,000 people in its current iteration. The stadium needs a bunch of work to expand its capacity to the FIFA-mandated 40,000 seats. Sadly, the limit climbs to 60,000 for quarter and semi-final matches, and the opening match and final needs at least 80,000 seats.
The plan is to expand seating to just over 45,000. The problem is that this needs to be accomplished in a short time frame, as the plans for a redesign need to be submitted to FIFA by May 2024. Apparently there is some money coming from the federal and provincial governments, but nothing is guaranteed. We’ll have to sit and wait until May to see how this plan will materialize.
Also, getting to BMO Field will be an issue. It always is.
Any of us who live outside of a five km radius of BMO Field understand the pain of commuting using private or public transportation. In short, there’s lots of work to be done to accommodate increased traffic to the Exhibition grounds. The GO station is perpetually under construction and there is only one temporary bridge over the tracks. The Ontario subway line is slated to be completed by 2031. Good luck taking a TTC bus or a streetcar to a World Cup game.
Despite some of the difficulties faced in the next couple of years, the excitement will only continue to build. Allez Les Rouges!