Alberta government says it would front $700M for Calgary Olympics

The Alberta government says it would contribute a maximum of $700 million if Calgary were to hold the 2026 Winter Olympics. The province says the money is contingent on a majority of voters supporting the bid in an upcoming plebiscite and on increased transparency in the organizing process.

A draft plan for Calgary to potentially host the 2026 Games pegs the cost at $5.2 billion. It suggests the city, provincial and federal governments should contribute $3 billion of that.

2026 Calgary Winter Olympics, Alberta, plebiscite
Ahead of November’s plebiscite, the Alberta government has announced a maximum of $700 million in funding should the city host the 2026 Winter Olympics. Photo by SmartCanadian99 via Wikimedia Commons.

It says the remainder would come from Games revenue.

In a letter to the city Friday, Finance Minister Joe Ceci said there wouldn’t be any cash beyond the $700 million.

“The government of Alberta will not be able to provide any additional funds that may be required, including those to cover revenue shortfalls or cost overruns,” he wrote.

“Moreover, we will not be providing any form of guarantee for additional costs arising from any source.”

A non-binding plebiscite on whether the city should bid for the 2026 Olympics is Nov. 13. The government insisted Calgary hold it and contributed $2 million to the cost.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Coun. Evan Woolley, chairman of the city’s Olympic assessment committee, said they are pleased that the province would be willing to throw money into the pot.

“We’re pleased that the province has come forward with their investment,” they said in a statement. “We have to analyze this announcement, while continuing our conversations with the government of Canada.

“We imagine there will be more to say about the city and federal government contributions in the next few days.”

Federal Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan has expressed enthusiasm for a bid, but Ottawa has not said exactly how much it would contribute.

Calgary 2026, the corporation leading bid efforts, has forecast $2.2 billion in direct private sector investment, a $2-billion boost to Alberta’s GDP and $200 million in provincial and municipal tax revenue if the Games were to go ahead.

The plan calls for $400 million on two new venues — a fieldhouse and mid-sized arena — and $500 million to refurbish old ones that would be included in a bid, many of which date back to when Calgary held the 1988 Winter Games.

Some events would be held west of Calgary in the Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, at the Nakiska ski resort in what is known as Kananaskis Country and as far away as Whistler, B.C.

The plan includes $583 million for temporary accommodations for athletes, media and officials that would be converted into mostly affordable housing in the long term.

Calgary and a combined Italian bid of Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo could be the only contenders for 2026. A coalition deal to run Stockholm’s city government on Friday leaves the Swedish capital’s potential bid in jeopardy.

The deadline to submit a 2026 bid to the International Olympic Committee is Jan. 11. The successful host city is to be announced in June.

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