Calgary council gives 5 conditions for moving forward with Olympic bid

A uniform from the 1988 Olympic torch run is seen in Calgary on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009.
A uniform from the 1988 Olympic torch run is seen in Calgary on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009. Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

Calgary City Council agrees more information is required before deciding whether to proceed with a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games, and with that has voted 9 to 4 to take the next step in the process.

After reviewing the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee’s (CBEC) final report, city bureaucrats agree holding the games would be feasible, but more information is required on whether they think council should make an official bid.

They say at this point, it’s impossible to identify or quantify all the business, legal and financial opportunities or risks associated with going forward with a bid.

Unless the following five conditions are met, city officials say the city should not go forward forward with a bid:

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  1. Capital costs for facilities be covered by municipal, federal and provincial governments
  2. Security costs be covered by other orders of government and not the city
  3. Canadian taxpayers not cover the operating costs of hosting the 2026 games with the belief is that ticket sales, sponsorship, broadcast rights, International Olympic Committee (IOC) contributions and other earned revenues should cover operating costs
  4. The city has limited debt capacity and there must be a financial structure that accommodates cash flow and the debt level constraints of the city
  5. If the IOC wants financial guarantees from the host city, such guarantees must be provided by someone other than the city or be at a level deemed acceptable to the city

Some council members, including Peter Demong, wanted to put an end to the Olympic dream Wednesday.

“I think it’s time to cut bait,” Demong said.

“I honestly thought the costs would come in lower. The risk factor of what we’re looking at for costs versus what we’re going to receive for benefits, I just don’t see that coming forward.”

Counc. Druh Farrell is worried about the city’s debt level and brought up joint-bid with Edmonton as a way of gaining provincial approval.

“If we’re looking at funding from the province it maybe more feasible if we marry the two cities and do a joint-bid,” she said. I’d say our chances would be more successful”

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Others, though, say without more information it would be premature to say no at this point.

“I can’t see how we could make a decision to walk away until we do see what that contract is like” said Counc. Jim Stevenson.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a no-brainer’: Canadian Olympians weigh in on possible Calgary bid for 2026

The IOC has pledged to make it easier for cities to make a bid. It’s also been reported this week the IOC is pledging to provide $2 billion to help Los Angeles host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The CBEC has told council it would cost $4.6 billion to host the 2026 Games and after revenues are taken into account, the number would be reduced to $2.4 billion.

Administration returned to council in September with a plan detailing the timeline to investigate the likelihood of the five conditions being met. For more information visit the city site here.

The committee announced it has ceased work on the project as of Oct. 31.

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