History will be made. And our next generation of young British Columbians will be inspired.


Message from the Chair


Sunday’s announcement that BC Place will be the site of seven matches in the 2026 FIFA World Cup co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada not only reinforced Vancouver’s status as Canada’s leading special event hub, it set the stage for another round of history-making that will only make British Columbia that much richer when it comes to being a hotbed for Canadian sport in general and soccer in particular.

If it hasn’t yet sunk in as to what this means for BC sport – above and beyond BC Soccer — and the promotion of BC sport history, heritage and culture, consider:

– The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sports event in the world, both in terms of stature, international television audiences and global fan engagement.

– This FIFA 2026 World Cup will be the biggest in history, expanding from 32 nations to 48; ushering in another round of knock out play (with the Round of 32 following the group stage of 12 pools comprised of four countries in each).

– It is also history-making on the strength of the scope of hosting in 2026: It is the first time three countries have teamed up to host the FIFA World Cup. Never before has the World Cup encompassed such a huge geographic footprint; a truly continental footprint, essentially spanning the three largest countries in North America and more than 95% of its population.

– Never before has a FIFA World Cup featured so many metropolitan markets, with FIFA 2026 bringing together 16 host cities (with 10 in the U.S., four in Mexico and two in Canada — Vancouver and Toronto).

– It will be the longest-World Cup in history, running from June 11th to July 19th in 2026 and spanning 39 days rather than the traditional 30 days.

Beyond the sheer historic size of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, there are so many upsides for Canada, British Columbia and Greater Vancouver, with 12.5 percent of the 104 total matches scheduled for north of the 49th parallel, with seven in Vancouver and six in Toronto). The U.S. has 75% of the matches and Mexico the other 12.5%, but part of the buzz in recent days is that Vancouver’s share of the hosting jumped from the initial projection of five matches to seven. That in itself is a real positive for Vancouver and BC.

Moreover, BC Place will have at least two matches featuring Canada, with two of the three Canadian group stage matches slated for Vancouver. If Canada wins its group, it will stay in Vancouver for the round of 32. Another win would propel Canada to the round of 16, also in Vancouver. Sure, that requires some dreaming but isn’t that a big part of what sport is all about? The bottom line is this: No matter how the Canadian team performs — Vancouver and BC are hosting seven matches, five in the Group stage, one in the Round of 32 and one in the Round of 16.

Vancouver is one of four Pacific Gateway cities that will be hosting the FIFA 2026 World Cup, alongside Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In that respect, it gives the Cascadia region 12 matches within a three-hour drive along the Vancouver-Seattle axis.

In terms of sport tourism and sport economics, that concentration of matches in the Pacific Northwest of North America is a real opportunity, especially in the next two and a half years of promotion and build up to the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Vancouver will be a beneficiary of other perks as well in the lead up period, including international friendlies that will carry a decided edge going into 2026.

This will be massive for B.C. Soccer and all levels of soccer in B.C. and across Canada. All stakeholders – most notably in men’s soccer – will see growth and added value, including Canada Soccer, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC here in B.C. and the MLS in Canada, and the Canadian Premier League nationally and locally in the form of Vancouver FC and Pacific FC. Make no mistake about the impact this will have for clubs and districts of boys and girls soccer throughout the province, along with high school and varsity soccer, especially in the Lower Mainland.

With seven World Cup matches and multiple other points of contact along the way, this will remind many of us of how privileged we were to bear witness – and engage in – the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games 14 years ago this month. Vancouver 2010 was certainly golden and was a Canadian success story, let alone a generational accomplishment for B.C.

Vancouver and Whistler owned the spotlight in 2010. In 2026, Vancouver is sharing it with 15 other cities. But in some respects – including global television reach — this will be bigger than Vancouver 2010.

So add the FIFA World Cup to our province’s tradition of international hosting, a legacy that includes the 1954 British Empire Games, the XV Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994, Vancouver 2010 and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup (with an eye to the Vancouver 2025 Invictus Games coming around the corner).

Congrats to Canada Soccer on being part of the 2026 co-hosting plan. Kudos as well to the Government of British Columbia for reversing the initial withdrawal of Vancouver as a candidate host city. Standing in the here and now, can you even imagine Vancouver NOT being part of this over the next 30 months?

Congratulations to Minister Lana Popham, along with the team at her Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport, including the BC Sport Branch led by Amy Schneider. Kudos to chair Rick Ramsbottom and CEO Charlene Krepiakevich at viaSport for their important role on this file, along with the ongoing advocacy for KidSport, Promotion Plus, the Athlete-of-the-Year Awards and PSOs in BC by Sport BC, chaired by Blair Lowther and led by CEO Rob Newman.

Of course, none of this would have happened were it not for the dynamic behind the scenes work done over the past few years by BC Pavilion Corp (led by PavCo Chair Gwendolyn Point and CEO Ken Cretney), BC Place (with GM Christopher May and his team pulling together so many aspects of the FIFA World Cup opportunity), the City of Vancouver and Michelle Collens and her team at Sport Hosting Vancouver.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, our management team led by CEO Michelle Kitchen, curator Jason Beck, our Foundation chaired by Blair Horn, our Council of Chairs championed by Dann Konkin and our other key stakeholders, including our friends at Canadian Heritage, the City of Vancouver, ISPARC and our indigenous sport partners, thanks to all who made and are making FIFA 2026 happen.

We are so proud to have yet another storytelling opportunity on behalf of the BC sports community and to use what is generated by FIFA 2026 to help inspire the next generation of young British Columbians.

Tom Mayenknecht, Chair
BC Sports Hall of Fame

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and founder and host of The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 and the Sportsnet Radio Network, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities, including the Sports Hall’s own Hero in You programs. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and founding Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.