Calgary 2026 Q&A With Olympic and Paralympic Games Bid CEO Mary Moran

Mary Moran, CEO of Calgary 2026 (LinkedIn Photo)

Mary Moran, President and CEO of Calgary 2026 (LinkedIn Photo)

On the eve of a likely decisive plebiscite over Calgary’s 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid, had the opportunity to ask Calgary 2026 President and CEO Mary Moran some fundamental questions.  She represents one voice in our three-part series of final thoughts at the end of a contentious Olympic bid debate.

Calgary 2026 is the organization tasked to explore, develop and promote a responsible bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  Moran also serves as President and CEO of Calgary Economic Development, where she has taken a leave of absence to focus on Calgary 2026.   Here’s the transcript:  Though the bid has understandably spent much effort explaining to Calgarians why a 2026 Olympic Games is good for Calgary – can you explain why Calgary 2026 would be good for the Olympic and Paralympic Movements?

Mary MoranWe made clear to the IOC that the Olympics in Canada will be run in a fiscally responsible and sustainable model, with respect to the taxpayers’ money, that will leave a meaningful sport legacy for Calgarians. The emphasis will be on clean sport and fair competition, ensuring that all athletes will be protected from the menace of doping.

Calgary aspires to restore faith in sports and inspire world’s youth.”

GB:  What about the IOC’s new bid process, and Agenda 2020, has enabled Calgary 2026 to be a better project than it may have been a few years ago?  Do you think Agenda 2020 misses the mark in Calgary, where there is strong desire for new infrastructure?

MM “Calgary 2026 is one of the first cities to go through Agenda 2020 from bid to deployment of the Games. Prior to Olympic Agenda 2020 this Calgary2026 bid could have never won.  Frankly, we wouldn’t have asked for the Olympics. But under the new directives, the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games must fit the needs of the host city, and not the opposite.”

GB:  In the balance between more legacy and less risk/less cost, do you feel Calgary 2026 has reached a plan that’s right for Calgarians?

MM“Our plan involves minimal risk while at the same time it leverages national and federal support that will enable us to leave a lasting legacy for the people of Calgary.

In the past few decades Olympic Games always run an operational profit.  What typically saddled host cities with debt was excessive construction. This can never be the case of Calgary, as we already have 85% of total sports infrastructure in place. 

All we need to do is build two new sport venues a mid-sized arena and a multi-sport complex, while at the same time we are leveraging public and private financing outside Calgary that will allow us to upgrade eleven existing venues that are in desperate need of repair in order to be used by Calgarians.

“It’s easy to score rhetorical points by making negative references about past Olympics.  But in Calgary we have proven that we can run projects on time and under budget.” – Mary Moran

It’s easy to score rhetorical points by making negative references about past Olympics.  But in Calgary we have proven that we can run projects on time and under budget. For Calgary2026 we are required to put up $390 million, in order to receive almost $2.5 billion in public investment and $2.2 more billion in private investment.  The effect will be profound in increasing short-term and long-term employment, additional social housing, and renovated sports facilities available to all Calgarians.”

GB:  What would you tell Calgarians who expected nothing less than an NHL-caliber arena?

MMTo successfully run the Olympics we don’t need two arenas.  But it is clear that if we come to an agreement for a second arena for the Flames, that will only increase the revenue from ticketing, that will further support legacy projects in the city. This will provide a better experience for athletes, spectators and the community.”

GB:  Do you think it’s important to Calgarians that the city elevate its brand on the international stage?  Will the 2026 Olympics further improve the Calgary brand beyond what the 1988 Games already did for the city?  How?

MM:   “The time is right for Calgary.

Hosting the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Calgary is a sound economic investment to the future of Calgary

This is not just about 15 days of hosting the Olympic Games and 15 more for the Paralympic Games.

This is about 7 years, as Calgary will be getting ready for the Games, it will be at the world stage. As Calgarians on the world stage we will be able to talk about not just about sports, but also about tourism, investment, start-ups, and business opportunity. Also, we will be able to raise the important issues that matter to us, both as Calgarians and Canadians: clean sport and fair competition, transparency and good governance in running the Games, participation without discrimination based on gender, or religion, or sexual orientation, or political beliefs.”


Other Calgary 2026 Voices:

Calgary 2026 Q&A With ‘No Calgary Olympics’ Spokesperson Erin Waite

Calgary 2026 Q&A With ‘Yes Calgary 2026’ Spokesperson Jason Ribeiro

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.