Calgary Olympic bid features McMahon renovations but no new stadium

By Donna Spencer

A draft plan for Calgary to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games includes renovations to McMahon Stadium, home of the Calgary Stampeders, as part of the $5.23 billion bid.

The bid corporation Calgary 2026 says the required public investment from taxpayers – the city, province and country – would be about $3 billion.

The remainder will be paid for privately via ticket sales, corporate sponsorship and a contribution from the International Olympic Committee in cash and services.

The calculations presented were in today’s dollars and did not include the potential rate of inflation over the next eight years, which Calgary 2026 estimates will be 2.25 per cent annually.

A new fieldhouse, which has long been a priority for Calgary, and a mid-size arena seating up to 6,000 were the only new venues proposed in the plan, although a curling venue has yet to be identified.

Existing facilities from the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary and Canmore, Alta., as well as the ski jump in Whistler, B.C., from the 2010 Games would be used again in 2026.

Edmonton is under consideration as a possible site for curling.

The economic impact on Alberta’s gross domestic product was estimated at $2 billion.

“This is the one initiative that will put people back to work right away,” Calgary 2026 chief executive officer Mary Moran said. “It will leave us with legacy infrastructure we can use for generations to come.

“It allows us to showcase the great culture, sport, environmental and social expertise we have here in the community.”

Calgary has not yet committed to submitting a bid for the 2026 Winter Games. City council has reserved the right to pull the plug on the process at any time.

A plebiscite asking Calgarians if they want to host the 2026 Winter Games is scheduled for Nov. 13, although the vote would be cancelled if council bails on a bid.

The IOC’s deadline to submit a bid is January. IOC members will vote on a host city in September 2019.

A Calgary Bid Exploration Committee pegged the price of the 2026 Games at $4.6 billion in June 2017.

By comparison, the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler cost roughly $7.7 billion.

Calgary’s draft plan proposes spending just over $500 million on upgrading and improving McMahon Stadium, Scotiabank Saddledome, the Olympic Oval, Canmore Nordic Centre, the sliding track and ski hill at WinSport and the alpine ski hill at Nakiska.

The plan does not include a new NHL-sized arena.

The city and Calgary Sports and Entertainment _ owners of the NHL’s Calgary Flames _ have been in a stalemate for several months over who should pay how much for a new arena.

“The timing of confirmation of this project may not meet our bid deadlines,” the draft hosting plan concept stated.

“Should this facility move forward, it would result in a significant strengthening of the hosting plan and afford more opportunities for spectator participation.”

The security budget is $610 million, which is less than the $900 million required in Vancouver and Whistler.

– CP

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