FIFA Women's World Cup will add $52 million to B.C. economy

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Image: FIFA World Cup / Shutterstock

The FIFA Women’s World Cup that kicks off in Canada in just eight days time is slated to to become the largest edition of the tournament in history.

Beginning June 6, a record 24 teams including Canada will play a total of 52 matches for the coveted trophy, up from 16 teams and 32 matches in Germany four years ago. When it comes to ticket sales, more than one million tickets have already been sold, which eclipses the 845,751 tickets sold at Germany 2011 and closely trails the record 1,194,215 tickets sold at United States 1999.

Organizers hope to reach a goal of 1.5 million ticket sales, an average of about 28,850 tickets per match. If achieved, this target will exceed Germany’s average of 26,430 per match.

But how will these staggering numbers translate into economic impact?

The month-long tournament, Canada’s first nationwide sporting event, is projected to provide $267 million in additional economic activity for the country. Of this figure, $52 million is expected to be generated in British Columbia, with $37 million directly from the Vancouver region where nine matches – including the highly viewed championship final – are being held at B.C. Place Stadium.

Tens of thousands of people from around the world will travel to B.C. to watch the games. And this does not include the players and accompanying entourage of coaches and support staff plus hundreds of international media personnel who will be working in the city for a month. Vancouver is also the site of the tournament’s main International Broadcast Centre.

This adds to the seasonal high demand for accommodations resources in the city over the forthcoming weeks with the peak tourist season approaching and the cruise ship season picking up steam. A major convention with 15,000 delegates, the 2015 World Congress of Dermatology, will also be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre during the first week of the Women’s World Cup.

Tourism Vancouver anticipates it will be another record breaking year for overnight visitation in the city. The international soccer tournament will help push this year’s visitor numbers to around 9.5 million visitors, an increase of more than half a million from last year’s 8.94 million.

However, tourists are not solely responsible for greater spending. Charles Gauthier, the president and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, was able to provide some insight on how local residents are part of the economic spinoff figures.

“As an example with 20,000 seats at Rogers Arena and all the pubs that are open, it spins around $1 million for the downtown economy,” said Gauthier. “We know people spend upwards of $50 when they come downtown for any kind of event and that’s based on surveys we’ve done on Metro Vancouver residents… and that includes food and beverages.”

“The people who are attending are going to be walking through the downtown. I anticipate there will be benefit from ancillary spending at the retailers.”

Events like the Women’s World Cup sets the stage for sports tourism. Another major international sporting event that is scheduled to occur in Vancouver is the World Rugby Sevens Series Tournament beginning March 2016. Earlier this year, Vancouver was announced as a new permanent annual stop for the weekend-long event.

When it comes to public funding for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, all levels of government are spending just a minuscule fraction of the cost of the much larger Men’s World Cup. Just $70 million is being spent to host the Women’s tournament: new stadiums and transportation infrastructure are not required to host the event.

The federal government contributed $12 million to the local organizing committee while the provincial government, another enthusiastic supporter of the Women’s World Cup, provided the event with $2 million. In contrast, for the 2015 Canada Winter Games held in Prince George, the provincial government spent about $12.8 million on the operational costs of hosting the event that generated as much as $90 million in revenue for the region.

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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