Could the city of Calgary experience Olympic glory for the second time in nearly four decades? Last fall, reports emerged that a group of local business and community leaders have been meeting since spring 2014 on creating a possible bid for the city to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.
If the group were to proceed with a bid, it would have to assemble financial support from the municipal and provincial governments for the likely showdown against Quebec City, which has also expressed interest with bidding for the Games.
Quebec City made a failed bid in 1995 to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, and both Quebec City and Calgary were defeated by Vancouver in 1998 for the Canadian rights to bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Vancouver’s pitch to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) cost $34 million, an expense that was covered by both the pubic and private sector. And like Vancouver 2010’s use of existing indoor venues, much of Calgary’s competition sports venue requirements can be fulfilled by the refurbishment and renovation of existing sports venues built for the 1988 Games.
It could also take advantage of the Calgary NEXT project, the $900 million sports complex where ice hockey and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies could be held. Some new transportation could possible be required, but this could be abated by already-completed or planned projects such as the expansion of Calgary International Airport and the scheduled 2024 completion of the $4.6-billion Green Line LRT.
The IOC is expected to make a decision on the 2026 host city in the summer of 2019. A Calgary bid could be particularly attractive for the IOC, which has been looking for a ‘safe’ and more modest bid proposals following Sochi 2014’s much-criticized $50-billion price tag.
The overblown budget of Sochi deterred bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics. When IOC members convened to vote on the bid city last summer, they had only two options: Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Last September, Toronto mayor John Tory decided not to proceed with a Canadian Olympic Committee-endorsed intent to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics given the high costs associated with both preparing a bid and hosting the massive event.