Calgary’s city council commissions study on hosting 2026 Winter Olympics
Calgary set the bar high for future host cities when it successfully hosted the XV Olympic Winter Games in 1988 and on Monday city council authorized up to $5 million to conduct a feasibility study for a bid to host the games again in 2026.
Last fall, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi confirmed that community leaders were discussing an Olympic bid and council met with sport and tourism representatives to talk about how to proceed.
Council accepted a recommendation from the Calgary Sport and Tourism Authority (CSTA) to form a Bid Exploration Committee to look into the cost of hosting the games, the level of investment required from the three levels of government and how to maximize existing facilities.
"Calgarians embrace the Olympic values and live the Olympic spirit. We believe that Calgary has the potential to be a strong and natural contender to repeat as host of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games," said Mayor Nenshi. "However, there are lots of hard questions that must be answered so we can make an informed decision about whether or not Calgarians, as a community, want to bid for the games."
Timing was a factor as the Canadian Olympic Committee says it needs to know which cities are interested in hosting the games by the end of June.
The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver brought in between $3 and $4 billion and many believe another Olympics would boost Alberta’s economy.
“You have to start ten years ahead of time, which is right now, and so I think it would help give a boost to the economy for the construction part of it and it would be a good shot in the arm,” said Mark Butler.
“It’s good for our tourism, it’s good for our businesses, it’s good for our sports as well. It’s good for other people to get to know us,” said Daniel Roube.
“I think it would be fun to have the Olympics but I don’t know what all would have to go into it to make that happen and where we should be putting our resources,” said Tiffany Talen.
“We’re the best city in the world for that, we’re naturals,” said Shelley Brauer.
“It’s still very far away but it takes a lot of prep and it is a great generator and we just got to make sure it’s the right thing to do,” said Sutherland.
A recent independent study commissioned by the CSTA , showed that the 2026 Games have the potential to add about $3.7 billion in GDP to Alberta's economy along with $2.6 billion in labour income and 40,000 jobs.
Canadian Bobsleigh team member, Jesse Lumsden, says a bid for 2026 would inspire future generations to compete at the Olympic level.
“I think getting another Olympic games, especially back in to a city that has hosted before and successfully hosted, would be huge, especially for Calgary, we have a ton of infrastructure in place, ” said Lumsden. “I think we saw the results of what happened when Vancouver got the bid and the medal haul that we were able to pull in and the funding and just the support in amateur sport all around that really grew in Canada over that period of time, to continue that from that legacy, I think is very important for sport in Canada.”
Lumsden says he also believes it would be cheaper to make upgrades to Calgary’s facilities than building new ones in another city.
“I think the biggest changes would need to be the ski jump tower because currently athletes are actually out-jumping the available space in the safe landing space that that tower has so that would be obviously a pretty expensive capital cost but so much cheaper than going to another city in Canada or another city that has never hosted before, the capital costs would be so much lower because that infrastructure is still really well maintained in the City of Calgary,” he said.
A long-term renewal plan for Calgary's 1988 facilities will be part of the report and will include a cost estimate to make upgrades and bring the venues up to current Olympic level standards.
The $5 million committed to the study will come from the city's fiscal sustainability reserve and the committee members and structure will be announced in August.
The committee will report back to council in January and April next year and will produce a final report by July 2017.
South Korea and China will host the next two Winter Olympics and some say the International Olympic Committee may be more inclined to choose a western city to host the 2026 games.
Other cities that have hosted the Olympics more than once include St. Moritz, Lake Placid, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Innsbruck, and Athens.