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Could 2026 FIFA World Cup action be coming to the big screen in New West?

New Westminster to consider FIFA World Cup citywide programming as part of 2025 budget talks.
The City of New Westminster is looking at the possibility of showing 2026 FIFA World Cup action on big screens in the city.

2026 FIFA World Cup action could be coming to the big screen in New Westminster.

At its June 24 meeting, city council unanimously approved a motion directing staff to include enhancements in the 2025 budget to operationalize a citywide 2026 FIFA World Cup celebration. A staff report stated the total estimated financial implication for 2025 is $160,000 to $210,000, which includes a program coordinator and outdoor LED screens.

Coun. Nadine Nakagawa stressed the need for programming to be citywide.

“Often we do become fixated on certain neighbourhoods, particularly the downtown,” she said. “But I just really want to emphasize that we're looking for something that serves the entire community here.”

The June 24 report was staff’s response to a motion put forward by Mayor Patrick Johnstone in April related to the City of New Westminster’s involvement in 2026 FIFA World Cup programming. That motion related to the exploration of opportunities for activating public spaces across New Westminster, applying for external funding, and engaging with community groups and residents about free public viewing and community celebrations to coincide with the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

According to the report, the city does not currently have the staff capacity to fill the required task, so a temporary full-time program coordinator would be required. That position, which would last for about 18 months, would begin in 2025 and continue until after the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“Due to the complexity of a hosting potential 2026 FIFA World Cup celebrations across the city, involving numerous interest holders, potential partners, type of activations, and locations, it is recommended that a temporary full-time program coordinator be retained who has subject-matter expertise in grant writing, event planning and implementation, along with interest-holder engagement and management,” said the report.

The report stated that partnerships would be an important part of a World Cup celebration. It also noted there may be value in approaching other municipalities for a more coordinated approach, shared resources, and/or applications for grants.

In May, the City of New Westminster hosted a couple of viewing parties at Anvil Centre during the Vancouver Canucks’ playoff run. Through that process, staff considered locations where a large LED screen would be suitable for viewing, and identified Mercer Stadium and Queen’s, Ryall, Sapperton, Moody and Hume parks as being among the potential locations.

In addition to staffing requirements needed to plan the city’s FIFA World Cup 2026 events, staff recommended the city consider the purchase of one indoor LED screen and two outdoor LED screens. The report stated the cost of purchasing an LED screen is estimated to be between $20,000 and $65,000, depending on the size and quality.

In consideration of City of Vancouver reports following riots, New Westminster staff recommend that viewers be spread out over more than one location in New West to “support increased safety and security.”

“As a result, staff recommend consideration of the purchase of two screens for outdoor viewing opportunities,” said the report.

The report goes on to say that consideration could also be given to the purchase and installation of a permanent LED screen for Queen’s Park Arena. While it could have “longstanding positive implications” for programming and bookings, the report noted that the only viable option would be to replace the existing score clock with a four-sided LED unit, which is estimated to cost $1 million.

Council also approved an amendment from Coun. Paul Minhas directing staff to seek out corporate or other private sector sponsorship agreements to partially or fully offset the capital cost of the digital screen purchase.

Minhas, owner of Begbie’s Tavern on Columbia Street, said he would be in conflict of interest if he put his name forward for such an undertaking, but he believes there are a lot of individuals and businesses that would love to sponsor this initiative.

“I think it would be a way to offset the cost that would arise from this,” he said.

Coun. Daniel Fontaine said it is cheaper to own an LED screen than to rent one on a frequent basis. He thinks the city could easily find a five-year sponsor for a screen, which would offset the cost, so it is not coming out of taxpayers’ money.

“And then you can use it for other multiple events,” he said. “And when I was thinking about this, there's so many community events where this can be used. ... It will open up some opportunity for us.”