News / Calgary

2026 Winter Olympics in Calgary would require $2.4B: Report

The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee believes the city can re-use existing sport venues to save some cash as Olympics host city.

Calgary would have to find billions of dollars in funding to go forward with the Winter Olympics in 2026.

Canadian Press file photo

Calgary would have to find billions of dollars in funding to go forward with the Winter Olympics in 2026.

If Calgary wants to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games it's going to cost more than a pretty penny, according to a Calgary Bid Exploration Committee report.

The report, which was delivered to Calgary city council Monday, shows the estimated total cost to host the Winter Olympics is $4.6 billion – and the city's going to need to come up with $2.4 billion in funding to pull it off.

The estimates are in 2017 Canadian dollars.

Revenues of $2.2 billion are expected to offset some of the overall hosting costs. But there's a silver lining; in using some of the city's legacy facilities with some upgrades, Calgary could save a lot of cash as a host.

But key pieces, like the second arena that CBEC maintains they need to go forward with a bid and fieldhouse, aren't part of the budget and haven't been funded as of yet; something Coun. Druh Farrell pointed out as an issue. She's concerned the project will run overages, like other games.

"How is Calgary's bid different? Every other city has gone over budget, in some cases by over 100 per cent," said Farrell. "I don't feel confident that we've got it right."

According to a Conference Board of Canada and Deloitte LLP study, economic impacts to the GDP could range between $2.2 to $2.6 billion with $500 million going toward tax revenues for three levels of government.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he'd like to inspect the economic benefit further.

"I like to see economic impact numbers much higher than that," said Nenshi. "I'd like to break down that GDP impact number to make sure it doesn't have anything dubious in it before making any decisions."

Although CBEC identified the federal government has a fund for international game events, to go ahead with the Olympics, the city will have some tough choices as both the provincial and federal government are carrying debts, and there's no indication so far that either orders of government are eager to jump into a bid.

The committee still has more than a month to deliberate and bring a final recommendation back to city councillors in July. But Nenshi said there are some answers Calgarians, council and the committee would need before moving forward with a yes or no recommendation.

Because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have changed their tune on bid deadlines, it's bought the city time, until February 2018, but also means key details are still missing from the overall bid exploration report.

"I think that it would be very, very difficult for council to make a final decision to move forward without knowing what the IOC host city agreement would be," said Nenshi. "We were hoping to have that in place when we set up the original timeline."

This means a decision could be made in July about whether or not the city goes forward with a bid, but it doesn't have to be.

Rick Hanson, chair of CBEC, said his group anticipated their figures and cost-estimates would be scrutinized by the public.

"I know people will question the numbers because they go 'In the short term it's going to cost that much in tax money, do we want to support it?" Hanson said. "And then there's the argument that will take place about the economic advantage to hosting the games."

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