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Volume 25 No. 154
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Calgary Plan For '26 Winter Games Leans Heavily On Existing Facilities

Hockey competitions are currently being proposed for the existing Saddledome in Calgary

The committee exploring a Calgary bid for the '26 Winter Games is "relying on upgraded existing facilities ... and a few new venues to bring the cost of holding the Games to less than what Vancouver spent" in '10, according to Allan Maki of the GLOBE & MAIL. The Draft Hosting Plan Concept presented to city council yesterday "estimates the cost" at $5.23B (all figures C), including about $610M in security costs. Vancouver's tally for the '10 Games came to $7.7B. Organizers are counting on $2.23B in "sponsorship revenue, ticket sales" and the IOC's contribution of $1.2B in "cash and services." Calgary will "need to build a multisport fieldhouse for speed skating and figure skating plus the mid-sized community rink that would be the secondary hockey arena." The remaining Olympic venues "will be upgraded or, in the case of ski jumping, located outside the province." The town of Whistler will "handle ski jumping and Nordic combined" as it did in '10. The cost of building a new jump in Calgary was "prohibitive." Edmonton has been "discussed as a possible host to the men's and women's curling events and also as a possible host for some select men's and women's hockey games at the lavish Rogers Place." But the draft plan "does not include those possibilities." Calgary has "not yet committed" to bidding for '26, and the city council has "reserved the right to pull the plug on the process at any time" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/12). 

WEIGHING THE BENEFITS: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi following yesterday's presentation said hosting the Games could be a "huge leveraging exercise" for the city that could attract billions in investments to help pay for projects that the city would otherwise "have to pay for on its own." Nenshi: "If we can get that money from other places and also get all the benefits of an Olympic Games, that starts to sound really interesting to me" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/12). In Calgary, Eva Ferguson notes hockey is proposed for the existing Scotiabank Saddledome, which "would receive some upgrades, including improved accessibility, washroom renovations and mechanical maintenance." Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran said that the Saddledome will "suffice after it receives upgrades, even though the Flames have for years argued the aging building no longer meets the needs" of the team or NHL standards, and "cannot host major entertainment events such as big-name concerts." Moran: "When the IOC toured the Saddledome, they said it was adequate for the Games." Moran welcomed "ongoing discussions between the Flames and the City of Calgary, adding if they can reach a deal for a new NHL arena, Calgary 2026 would be willing to 'reconfigure' its plans for new venues." Flames President & CEO Ken King said that while the city has "created a specific committee to continue arena talks with the NHL team, he was surprised it was not coordinated with Calgary 2026" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/12).

DEALER'S CHOICE: In Calgary, Licia Corbella writes this kind of deal "doesn't come along every day." Corbella: "You spend $200 million and get more than $3 billion in return in hard assets and about another $3 billion worth of free advertising, economic spinoffs and jobs. ... Don't walk away. Even our sometimes seemingly anti-sport Mayor Naheed Nenshi stands by these numbers." The only thing in this bid that "isn't great" is the caveat about the Saddledome. Corbella: "Come on Calgary. Don't let this awesome opportunity pass us by" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/12).