Alberta has been selected by Commonwealth Sport Canada as the preferred candidate to bid on hosting the 2030 Commonwealth Games.
A group of partners — including the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, the province of Alberta, the Tsuut’ina Nation and government of Canada — is exploring the possibility and feasibility of a joint bid to host the Games.
The event would be held over 11 days in August 2030, with competitions and cultural events shared between Calgary, Edmonton, Tsuut’ina Nation, the Bow Valley and other Alberta communities.
A group of athletes, business and sports leaders, the chief of Tsuut’ina Nation, as well as the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton, have been working together for three years to prepare a feasibility assessment on a bid to host the Games.
“We’re very excited to enter a new phase of bid exploration and this one involves collaboration with all orders of government including the Tsuut’ina Nation,” said Roger Jackson, president and CEO of the Alberta 2030 Commonwealth Games Corp.
“In support of this bid work, we’re contributing up to $2 million to support the bid process,” Alberta minister of culture Jason Luan said.
“If the bid is successful, the 2030 Commonwealth Games bid would bring back the Games to Alberta for the first time since 1978.”
Victoria was the last Canadian host city in 1994.
The Commonwealth Games were also held in Edmonton in 1978 — when the city’s CFL football stadium was built for the event attended by Queen Elizabeth II — and in Vancouver in 1954.
Commonwealth Sport Canada would not disclose if any other nations had expressed interest in bidding on hosting the Games.
“Tsuut’ina is pleased to lend our support to the exploration of a bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games,” said Tsuut’ina Nation Chief Roy Whitney. “Very few things bring people together like sports, and the opportunity for reconciliation would be historic.
“Not only is our sporting infrastructure strong, so is the talent behind this effort. We hope this bid will be positively received and we look forward to sharing hosting opportunities,”
Jackson confirmed facilities like McMann Stadium, a Calgary field house, Commonwealth Stadium, indoor velodrome and lawn bowling lawns in Edmonton would be considered for event venues but upgrades could also be possible.
“The important thing from our standpoint is to have the communities involved identify what are the renovated projects or the new projects that are a priority for the community.”
The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton both offered their continued support for the bid exploration.
“Edmonton recognizes the importance of hosting major international events like this that not only bring people together to celebrate but leave a lasting economic impact on our city and help to support our global image,” said Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.
“The City of Edmonton supports this collaborative effort to determine the feasibility of pursuing this joint bid for an inclusive, sustainable 2030 Commonwealth Games that will build on our city’s successful sporting legacy.”
“We support conducting a feasibility assessment to determine whether a joint Alberta bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games could see significant legacy infrastructure investments in both Calgary and Alberta’s economy,” said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
“Whenever we can pursue strategic partnerships and cost sharing options to generate investment and elevate civic pride, it’s important to connect with Indigenous leaders, governments and community partners to explore those opportunities.”
Brian Soebbing, associate professor at the University of Alberta’s faculty of Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation, says joint bids are becoming more common.
“The trend that we’re seeing in sporting events has been a joint bids. We certainly see that close to home with Men’s World Cup coming up in a few years — the joint venture between U.S., Mexico and Canada.”
“When you think about it in terms of Calgary and Edmonton, I think broadly is a signal of two cities trying to cooperate with one another.
“It’s also probably what they’re thinking about using that together as sort of leveraging the opportunity to promote not just the two biggest cities in the province, but in their mind, the province as well.”
Soebbig says a bid acts as a catalyst for upgrading existing venues and building new ones.
“I would be shocked if there isn’t something put in by the organizers or the cities themselves as it relates to upgrades or new, different facilities,” he said.
“When you think about these things, those add to the cost of hosting an event and all the things that are associated with bidding for large-scale sporting events.”
Explore Edmonton, a City of Edmonton tourism and venue management organization, said it’s nice to see the city’s rich sports-hosting history recognized by Commonwealth Sport Canada, in selecting Alberta as the preferred candidate.
“Edmonton is actively engaged in this process and Explore Edmonton is working alongside the City and current bid partners, as well as our Indigenous partners in Treaty 6 to advance the exploration of a bid. As part of our efforts, we look forward to talking to citizens and hearing their ideas of how a bid could help us build our city,” a statement said.
Hamilton had considered a bid to host the 2030 Games but was told by Commonwealth Sport Canada last month it was no longer the preferred candidate after the Ontario government didn’t commit to funding.
All partners will decide whether Canada should pursue a formal bid by August. Bids are due to the Commonwealth Games Federation by Aug. 31, 2023.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Alberta Institute — a group that calls itself a libertarian-minded public policy think tank — and two municipal advocacy group issued a news release calling on the province to reject taxpayer funding for the bid.
The 74 members of the international Commonwealth Games Federation (London) will decide the host of the 2030 Games in November 2023.
The Commonwealth Games are held every four years, with competitors representing 74 nations and territories.
Victoria was the last Canadian host city in 1994.
— With files from Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press