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Calgary’s Winter X Games won’t happen in 2020 after province pulls funding

A rendering of the X-Games at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alta. .
A rendering of the X-Games at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alta. . Courtesy: CNW Group/Tourism Calgary

The UCP budget unveiled on Thursday provided no funding for Calgary’s planned 2020 Winter X Games, a decision the city says means the event “won’t happen.”

In March 2019, Calgary had secured the rights to host the X Games, a music and sports festival, for a three-year commitment.

The decision to pull the 2020 event funding comes as part of cuts to the operating budget for Alberta’s trade and tourism ministry. The former NDP government had previously made a $13.5 million commitment to the X Games.

City officials said they believe that the cuts will only affect the 2020 funding.

“This is about when we can launch it in 2021 and how [the province] can participate,” said Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland on Sunday.

“I am sure they are well aware that there is excellent returns and it’s actually a good investment for everybody. So I’m hoping they’ll consider it.”

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READ MORE: Winter X Games coming to Calgary in 3-year deal

Tourism Calgary has said it will commit $1.8 million per year from 2020 to 2022 to support the sports tournament.

According to a provincial spokesperson, the UCP government is not ruling out future funding.

“While we support putting Calgary on the map as an international sport and tourist destination, our current fiscal situation does not allow for the funding of the $12 million commitment to X Games. However, we are willing to consider future requests for funding,” said Justin Brattinga, a spokesperson for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, in a statement to Global News on Sunday.

Sutherland said efforts to secure corporate sponsors for the games are ongoing.

“That’s critical and we need it. There needs to be private participation. That was always the intention from day one,” Sutherland said.

“Talks are going well and sponsorship is progressing.”

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According to Tourism Calgary, hosting the X Games starting in 2021 will give partners the time necessary to prepare to host the event.

“It also allows us to continue to work with key stakeholders, including the Government of Alberta to ensure the economic benefits of this significant event are realized,” said Carson Ackroyd, senior vice president of sales with Tourism Calgary in a statement on Sunday.

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“Being the first Canadian city to host this energetic, multi-faceted and city-wide event will be a game-changer for Calgary,” said Ackroyd.

X Games could offer Olympics legacy refresh for Calgary
X Games could offer Olympics legacy refresh for Calgary

Ackroyd said hosting the X Games in Calgary will see artists and winter sport athletes “energize the entire city with top Canadian music talent, family-focused sport and cultural activities.”

Tourism Calgary estimates that hosting X Games will contribute $75 million annually to Calgary’s economy, with 75,000 annual spectators, including 10,000 out-of-region visitors