This past November, the Canadian men’s national basketball team played two World Cup qualifiers at the Edmonton Expo Centre. About 3,000 people came to each game. The games were nationally televised and there was media coverage from across the country. The Canadian players came through with wins over Venezuela and Panama.
Reed Clarke, the president of the Edmonton Stingers, felt that his Canadian Elite Basketball League team could only benefit from the buzz that the national team had generated in the city. And he believes the Canadian team’s two-game series is one of the reasons the Stingers’ attendance is up 150 per cent this summer.
Clarke remembers what he told his staff as they watched the Canadian national team games unfold.
“This is the minimum of what it will be this season. And, it ended up being a real stepping stone for us.”
The Canadian national team qualifiers are just a part of why Edmonton was just ranked as the second-best sports city in Canada by BCW Sports, the Switzerland–based agency that unites big sports organizations with government, and measures the impact sports make around the world.
Six Canadian cities made the list. As we might expect, Toronto finished the highest of the seven, at 27th overall. But it did fall out of the top 20 in 2023.
Edmonton was next at 38th, then came Montreal at 43, Vancouver at 45, Calgary at 75 and Ottawa in 85th place.
Paris, which is the next Summer Olympics host city, was named the top sports city in the world.
Edmonton was passed over by FIFA for the 2026 World Cup, but around 100,000 fans gathered at Commonwealth Stadium for two massive men’s national-team victories in November of 2021, and images of defender Sam Adekugbe hurling himself into a pitchside snowbank went viral.