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Calgary’s Olympic Bid Exploration

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I remember the tough recession of the early 1980s and how community and business leaders gathered to form a bid committee which ultimately won the 88’ Winter Olympics.  Faced with another very hard economic cycle, once again Calgary business leaders have come forward with a similar plan to host the Olympics. I believe we should investigate whether we can effectively use our legacy sports facilities to host the 2026 Games. Economic benefits have been estimated as high as $6 billion and estimated jobs created at 40,000.  

The $5 million dollar cost to explore a bid will determine whether our facilities will meet International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards.  There has been some interest already from the private sector to sponsor this work.  The bid exploration will also provide us with the foundation for a long-term renewal plan for our 1988 legacy facilities and costs associated with renewal. This will give us the information we need to make good decisions and apply cost-benefit analysis for investments in our aging infrastructure, whether or not we make a bid. Let me be clear in that I will not support an Olympic Bid next year if this feasibility report shows our infrastructure is not sufficient and would require very costly investments that may not see a return on those investments. However, the IOC has established reforms to the bidding process reflected in Agenda 2020; a Calgary bid is a significantly more feasible option given its emphasis on reuse of existing venues and sustainable solutions that are aligned with the community’s needs. One commentator suggested that the IOC needs us more than we need them and therefore we should not proceed.  If indeed the IOC does need us then I believe that is the beginning of a promising negotiation.

We can look to our westerly neighbour Vancouver to see some of the benefits of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2010. The Olympics in Vancouver broke even, and left a debt-free legacy with many training facilities and highly-used infrastructure.  We also find ourselves in a new era where reinventing ourselves and diversifying our economy by attracting young talent to our City is an important part of evolving to be an even better place to live and work. Vancouver saw an uptick in new industries and became a stronger technology hub after the 2010 Olympics. The Bid Exploration Committee will report back to Council with a recommendation by June 2017, and a bid must be submitted by September 2017. Please visit here for more information, background, and FAQs.



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