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2026 World Cup Venues (Part 1): Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton

Part 1 of our series examining the prospective Canadian hosts for the 2026 World Cup.

Japan v England: Semi Final - FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Canada isn’t in the World Cup right now, but that won’t stop us making it all about us. Now that we know Canada will be co-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup alongside the U.S. and Mexico, we thought it would be a good idea to look at the state of our country’s prospective World Cup venues. Today, we’ll be looking at Edmonton and the Commonwealth Stadium.

Now that the United 2026 Bid has won FIFA’s vote, we can move on from speculating over who will win to speculating over who will get to host games. As it stands, it looks like three Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton) will be splitting 10 games among them. Of course, that could change, with eight years before the event; even the specific cities could change. Still, the safe money would be on each of those three cities getting at least two or three matches.

Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton

Capacity: 56,302
First opened: 1978 (renovated 2008, 2013)
Main tenant: Edmonton Eskimos (CFL)
Field surface: Shaw Sports Turf Powerblade Elite 2.5S

Australia v Japan: Quarter Final - FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The largest stadium in Canada (by permanent capacity), it was opened in 1978 as Edmonton hosted the Commonwealth Games. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and all the athletics events (a sport that’s returned to the stadium numerous times, at the 1983 Summer Universiade and the 2001 World Championships).

Primarily a CFL venue at the moment, Commonwealth has an artificial surface that’s been criticized heavily, with athletes at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup noting how hot the field was. The surface was only installed in 2015, but the stadium will almost certainly need to revert to grass for the World Cup (for reference, it cost $3.5 million when BMO Field installed grass in 2010).

Turf aside, though, Commonwealth Stadium has had some serious facelifts in recent years. New facilities and locker rooms were installed in 2008. All the seats were replaced in 2013, when the stadium also received a new scoreboard and repaved exterior parking lots.

Edmonton has hosted plenty of soccer before, drawing 51,936 for a 1994 friendly between the Canadian MNT and Brazil, then drawing 53,058 in 2015 as Canada beat China to open the Women’s World Cup. The venue hosted 11 games from the 2015 WWC, including a semi-final and third-place game. It also hosted nine matches at the 2007 U-20 Men’s World Cup.

Recently, FC Edmonton played a few of their Canadian Championship matches at Commonwealth, between 2011 and 2013.

Commonwealth Stadium is very centrally located in Edmonton, about 5-10 minutes from the city centre. It’s connected to the core by the Edmonton Transit System’s light rail service, with Stadium station very close to the city’s main hub.

The United bid book lists Edmonton’s population at about 1.4 million, with just over 20% foreign-born residents. It’s the fifth-largest city in Canada in terms of GDP, and the sixth-largest metropolitan area by population.

Edmonton will also have its Canadian Premier League club up and running by 2026, with FC Edmonton slated to play at Clarke Stadium (just next to Commonwealth).

What do you think? Is Edmonton a good host for the World Cup? Do you know anything about the venue I haven’t mentioned?