(ATR) Calgary City Council voted 12-3 to stay in the race for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Games (Getty Images)
In a vote late Tuesday, which could have derailed the bid, councilors voted to push ahead and hold a plebiscite on Nov. 13, allowing Calgarians to decide whether to continue with the Olympic quest.
At the closed-door meeting, the Calgary 2026 bid team announced its Olympic plans would cost $5.23 billion to host the Games; taxpayers would have to foot $3 billion of the bill through city, provincial and federal funding. The Calgary Olympic bid exploration committee last year projected a $4.6 billion spend in its 2017 feasibility study.
Despite the increase, bid CEO Mary Moran described the budget as financially “responsible”.
“The right plan will raise awareness about Calgary and region, create jobs, drive economic growth, boost tax revenues, draw arts and culture investment, and bolster our tourism sector,” she said.
"Our responsibility is to develop and promote a responsible bid," Moran was quoted in the Calgary Herald. "We're about four-and-a-half years in advance of when most [bid corporations] have this level of budgeting detail.
"We're very confident with the number we've put forward to the community.”
Under the draft plan, eight existing facilities in Calgary will be updated, along with three mountain facilities.
With the 2026 Winter Olympics having nearly twice as many events as the 1988 Calgary Games, proposals also include construction of two new facilities in the city – a mid-sized arena as well as a fieldhouse that can accommodate the Olympics and Paralympics and be converted to a summer multisport facility post-Games.
A revamp of the ageing Saddledome is favored instead of building a new NHL-standard arena.
A venue for curling is not yet nailed down, with Edmonton a possible host. Three Olympic villages will house athletes and team officials
“Together we will deliver a responsible Games bid with a shared vision of the future for Calgary, Canmore, Alberta and Canada,” said bid chair Scott Hutcheson in a statement.
After the bid’s presentation to council, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi told councilors he believed there was enough information released by Olympic bid officials to let people decide in the Nov. 13 plebiscite whether they wanted the Olympics or not.
"Based on what I've heard today I certainly think that with the exception of the piece on the actual share from the provincial government, we're ready to go to a plebiscite.
"The province has promised that they will come forward with those provincial numbers in plenty of time for the vote."
The IOC executive board will decide next month which of the five bids – from Calgary, Erzurum in Turkey, Sapporo, Stockholm and a Italian bid – should be put through to the candidature phase, with a Jan. 11 date for Olympic bid submissions.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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