By Saima Asad, January 24 2017 —
Many Calgarians grew up hearing glamorous stories about when the Winter Olympics were held on home ice in 1988. Now, we may have the chance to experience that wonder in our own lifetimes.
Calgary City Council received a report at their Jan. 23 meeting intended to evaluate the costs and benefits of hosting the Olympics. Although the city has not yet put in an official bid, they have already invested $5 million into research. There is a lot to be gained from hosting the Olympics and Calgary should go through with its bid.
According to a press release, “Calgary City Council authorized up to $5 million from the city’s fiscal sustainability reserve to conduct a feasibility study on hosting the games.” The money was granted on June 20, 2016 in response to a request from the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority (CTSA).
“We believe this is an opportunity to sustain and grow Calgary’s capacity as a world-class sport hub, grow our economy, create jobs and provide a global showcase for Calgary’s arts and culture community,” CTSA Chair Doug Mitchell said.
As a result of this initial survey, the city announced the creation of the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) on Sept. 19, 2016 to determine whether the benefits of hosting the Olympics outweigh the costs.
Our existing infrastructure provides an ideal setting for an Olympic bid. The CBEC’s feasibility studies focus on upgrading the existing facilities which were created for the 1988 Olympics. The cost of hosting the 1988 Olympics was $829 million, which exceeded the cost of any previous Summer or Winter Olympics. At the time, the cost was justified because of the facilities that had to be built. Unlike the stadiums that Qatar is building for the FIFA World Cup that will likely become obsolete, the infrastructure built to host the 1988 Olympics was designed to be used long after the games. Since Calgary already has these facilities, the infrastructure costs will be significantly lower than they were in 1988.
An Olympic bid also has the potential to boost Alberta’s economy and provide increased revenue for tourist attractions. According to the city’s study, “the 2026 Games have the potential to add approximately $3.7 billion in GDP to the Alberta economy, $2.6 billion of additional labour income and the creation of approximately 40,000 jobs.”
Canada Olympic Park is one of Calgary’s main attractions and hosts activities throughout the year that bring many visitors to the city. The Olympic Oval was built in 1987 and is still packed with ice skaters and international athletes.
Regardless of where the Olympics are held, athletes from across the world still choose to train at the Olympic Oval, which boasts being home to the world’s fastest ice and 26 world records.
The CBEC’s final report will be released by July 2017. Hopefully city council decides to put in a bid for Calgary to host the Winter Olympics in 2026. The existing infrastructure and economic benefits from hosting the Olympics makes putting in a bid for Calgary an easy choice.