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World Cup deal never ‘made known’ to Toronto city councillors

Toronto’s city manager revealed that city officials were kept in the dark about a deal that could potentially burden taxpayers with cost overruns associated with hosting World Cup games.

The agreement, which was signed without the approval or knowledge of elected officials, came as a surprise to many.

The controversy surrounding the deal has sparked concerns about transparency and accountability in decision-making processes.

Despite Toronto’s role as the host city for the 2026 World Cup, councillors were not involved in the approval of the agreement.

Instead, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), a private partner, will represent the city’s interests.

However, any additional costs incurred during the event will be covered by taxpayers, rather than MLSE.

City councillors expressed their worry about the financial implications of the deal, emphasizing their responsibility to provide public oversight.

They criticized the lack of information provided to them before the agreement was finalized.

The city manager confirmed that the specifics of the arrangement were not disclosed to the mayor, city councillors, or the council itself, raising questions about the extent of their decision-making power.

Critics argue that delegating too much power to the public service and authorized staff led to this situation, where crucial decisions were made without sufficient scrutiny.

Some council members described the deal as a “sweetheart deal” for MLSE, as it involved the city reimbursing the company for the redevelopment of BMO Field.

Defending the agreement, the city manager stated that despite the absence of political signoff, it was realistically the best deal available for the city.

He highlighted MLSE’s expertise and commercial capabilities, emphasizing that losing their involvement would significantly impact the event’s success.

The city manager also mentioned that any cost overruns caused by consultants or contractors could be recovered under existing agreements with MLSE.

This revelation has brought attention to the need for greater transparency and public involvement in decision-making processes.

Critics argue that such important agreements should not be made without the knowledge and consent of elected officials, ensuring proper oversight and accountability.

As the city prepares to host the 2026 World Cup, taxpayers are left questioning the potential financial risks they may face and hoping for more transparency in future agreements.

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