A Calgary 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will cost about CAD $5.23 billion (USD $3.98 billion), with CAD $3 billion (USD $2.29 billion) from public funding and the additional amount offset by revenues and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) contribution, documents released by officials revealed Tuesday.
The Calgary 2026 Olympic Winter Games BidCo finally released its closely guarded 80-page plan detailing the venues and budgets that will be used for a potential Olympic bid.
The budget includes a robust $1.13 (all additional amounts in Canadian dollars) contingency plan which could be returned back to the public purse if left unused. Operational costs tally about $2.45 billion with $3.495 billion considered legacy investments.
Included security costs are estimated to be $610 million.
The plans include two new venues costing $403 million – a 10,000 seat multi-sport field house that would be used to host figure skating and short-track speed skating during the Games, and a mid-sized 6,000 seat arena for ice hockey.
The new arena would not be suitable, as is, for the NHL’s Calgary Flames as many had hoped for as a legacy from the Games. The City and the team had been negotiating for months but have yet to reach a deal.
Eight existing venues will get significant upgrades, costing $502 million.
Most venues will be located in Calgary and Canmore, with ski jumping set for the Vancouver 2010 facility in Whistler, British Columbia.
Three Olympic Villages costing $583 million, to be later converted to affordable housing, will be built to accommodate the planned clusters in Calgary, Canmore and Kananaskis.
There are no plans yet for curling, but existing venue options are currently under investigation.
The Olympic Saddledome, used during the 1988 Games, will be the prime ice hockey venue; sliding events will be staged at the Winsport facility also used in 1988 along with freestyle ski events.
Alpine sports will be contested in Nakiska and Nordic events will be held in Canmore.
Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran told City Council that the budget has already been developed in great detail, with almost 40,000 line items, and to the level that is typically seen only three years before the Games are deployed.
Calgary City Council will debate these plans Tuesday afternoon and vote to either approve them moving forward, or immediately end the bid in its tracks.
Before being knocked out of the race this summer due to a lost regional referendum, the bid from Sion in Switzerland tabled a preliminary operating budget of CHF 2.4 billion (USD $2.4 billion, CAD $3.2 billion) which included security costs, but no infrastructure costs. Venue and construction costs were expected to be minimal due to the use of mostly existing facilities, and the Olympic Village was to be privately funded.
None of the other bids currently in the race have released detailed budgets.
Last year a Calgary Bid Exploratory Committee (CBEC) released a preliminary budget indicating the Games would cost CAD $4.6 billion (USD $3.5 billion), not including inflation. Later Calgary 2026 officials indicated those numbers could go up even after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released a statement indicating those costs could be lowered if new bid reforms were observed.
Missing from today’s announcement were details about cost sharing with provincial and federal government partners, leaving Calgarian’s wondering what the impact will be on their wallets. Final figures have been promised to taxpayers at least 30 days prior to a plebiscite on November 13 when city residents will get their chance to weigh in.
The Province of Alberta is reportedly still reviewing the numbers before it confirms its commitment to final invoice.
Calgary Mayor Neheed Nenshi said in council chambers Tuesday that the Federal government is still reviewing plans but has indicated that Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan fully supports the bid and is considering matching the funds that will be committed by both the city and provincial governments. To further clarify, Nenshi said he believes funding will be up to 30 percent, but not more than 50 percent of the total public commitment.
None of Calgary’s rival bids are on solid footing just weeks before the IOC is set to to reveal a short list of candidate cities from October 8-9 in Buenos Aires at the Youth Olympics.
Stockholm lacks government support with final guarantees due into the IOC in January. Sapporo seems to have refocused on a 2030 bid when new rail infrastructure will be delivered to the city. Erzurum in Turkey poses major security and political risks and a three-city Italian project has been slow to organize.
The IOC will elect the host city in September 2019.
More to come as this story develops.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.