COMMENTARY: What if Calgary says yes to 2026 Olympic bid?
Does anyone else have a weird feeling about how Calgary’s 2026 Olympic bid plebiscite will play out on Tuesday?
At first, I was absolutely certain that city council’s handling of the file would derail the efforts. It was easy to get caught up in the number of calls and texts to the radio station, the polls and online commentary to feel like a snowball had a better chance in you-know-where than the Olympics had to land in the hearts and minds of Calgarians.
Then I started having some conversations outside the echo chambers I’m accustomed to. Admittedly, some were with those in the sports community, but the majority were not. After soaking it all in, I realized I was having a serious case of déjà vu.
During the last municipal election campaign, I was being led to believe that Mayor Naheed Nenshi was heading for a resounding defeat. It didn’t matter what you were reading or hearing, whether it was the calls, texts, polls or online comments, Bill Smith was going to be the new mayor. The parade route was being planned by some. Obviously, that didn’t happen and it left everyone asking a whole bunch of questions. How did everyone get this wrong? Did Smith make any missteps along the way? Or did everyone simply underestimate the power of Nenshi’s ability to get the vote out?
Watch below: Mayor Nenshi says 2026 Olympic opportunity ‘a great deal for Calgary’
That last question is what has me wondering out loud. We’ve talked at length about the financial implications of proceeding with the bid for the 2026 Games. We’ve talked at length about the boondoggle that has been council’s involvement with the bid. And we’ve talked at length about the International Olympic Committee.
But what if it all doesn’t matter to the majority of voters? What if they say they can look past it all and see a need for the city to simply rally around something that could put the city on the world stage again? What if they believe this is what Calgary needs to jump start some energy here?
Heading into the 2017 municipal election, I had a similar feeling in the pit of my stomach.
It was doubt.
Whether I’m right or not isn’t the real question, though. The real question is: is everyone ready for the possibility that Calgarians decide to keep the Olympic bid dream alive on Nov. 13?
I have said I’m not a fan of this particular bid and the way it’s played out and continue to feel this way heading into the last few days before Calgarians head to the polls. It’s a personal choice (despite not actually getting a vote as I live in Airdrie) and it is a personal choice for all of you.
That personal choice could very well turn into a “yes” from the majority of Calgarians. And if that becomes our reality, those of us who were ardent “no” votes will have to do some navel-gazing to figure out how we got it wrong. We will also have to figure out where to go from here.
We will get the answers to all of those questions on Tuesday night. Rob Breakenridge and I will bring you the results as they come in during our special two-hour program from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. We will have a few guests and take your calls after the votes are tallied.
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