Eleventh Hour Funding Deal Could Save Calgary 2026 Bid From City Council Axe

A late last-minute funding deal struck Tuesday among Calgary and the Provincial and Federal governments could save the city’s 2026 Olympic Games Bid.

Calgary last hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988
Calgary last hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988

The surprise deal coming just hours before the City Council has been set to kill the bid due to the lack of a satisfactory funding arrangement, could be enough to sway councilors to vote to continue the bid process, and put it into the hands of Calgarians for a scheduled November 13 plebiscite.

The new deal is worth CAD $2.875 billion (all amounts in Canadian dollars), half coming from the federal government, and is a small reduction from the $3 billion initially sought.  Reports explain that the funding matches a new reduced budget that was lowered due to discovered efficiencies.

No new plans have been released, but the original concept included $1.1 contingency fund.

A council motion scheduled to be held Wednesday morning to end the bid would need to pass by at least a 10-5 margin to be successful.  With at least six votes against, the project could survive to see another day.

Earlier Tuesday the Calgary Olympic Bid Assessment Committee voted 14-0 in favour of sending the motion to the full council vote, signalling the end for the bid – but with a new agreement in place, the bid can be saved.

Still, cautious City Councillors may be hesitant to change their minds in this volatile context.  The vote is expected to be close.

The letter sent by Calgary 2026 late Tuesday announcing the agreement was signed by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, federal Minister of Sport Kirsty Duncan and had a blank space for Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to affix his signature.  That will presumably happen if the bid survives the city council vote.

The new deal is also contingent on Calgary 2026 receiving a ‘yes’ vote at the plebiscite next month, and is in 2018 dollars.

Calgary Assessment Committee Recommends Cancellation Of 2026 Olympic Bid

The deal struck sees the City of Calgary contribute CAD $370 million in cash, and $200 million in insurance redemption to cover a “defined contingency.”

Both the City of Calgary and Government of Alberta will commit $150 million in pre-authorized improvements to Victoria Park and access to the Calgary Stampede grounds.

The Government of Alberta will continue to honour the $700 million cash commitment it made earlier in the month.

The Canadian government will inject $1.423 billion into the project to cover core costs,  That amount represents fund matching the city and province contributions, satisfying a clause the federal government announced as part of its funding proposal last Friday.

An additional $30 million dollars will be added by the Canadian government for “leveraging initiatives identified in the hosting plan.”

On the news of the possible demise of the bid, an outpouring of support by Canadian Olympians flooded social media with supporters urging people to attend Wednesday’s city council debate and vote, wearing symbolic red.

More to come…

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.

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