Alberta pulls support for 2030 Commonwealth Games, bid efforts cancelled

Click to play video: 'Alberta’s bid for 2030 Commonwealth Games cancelled after province pulls support'
Alberta’s bid for 2030 Commonwealth Games cancelled after province pulls support
WATCH: Alberta won’t be hosting the 2030 Commonwealth Games after the provincial government announced it was pulling it’s support for a potential joint bid. Adam MacVicar reports – Aug 3, 2023

The Government of Alberta has pulled its support for a bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games, effectively terminating the effort to secure a bid for the games.

A joint bid had been considered for the 2030 Games, in partnership with the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, the province, the Tsuut’ina Nation, Enoch Cree Nation and Government of Canada.

The plan was to host the games over 11 days in August 2030 with competitions and events between Calgary, Edmonton, Tsuut’ina Nation, the Bow Valley and other communities across Alberta.

Late Wednesday, the province notified the Alberta 2030 Commonwealth Bid Committee, the group working to secure a bid, that it was pulling out of the effort, according to a statement from the group.

Tourism and Sport Minister Joseph Schow confirmed to Global News that financial feasibility concerns prompted the province to pull its support.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta exploring 2030 Commonwealth Games bid, despite financial risks'
Alberta exploring 2030 Commonwealth Games bid, despite financial risks

“Alberta has a successful history of hosting major, international multi-sport games in our province and any proposal to host major games is considered with the interests of Alberta taxpayers at top of mind,” said Schow in a statement sent Thursday afternoon.

“We promised to remain transparent with Albertans about the costs of hosting international sporting events and clearly demonstrating a return on our investment for the people and communities of Alberta.

“In the case of the 2030 Commonwealth Games, the numbers just didn’t add up for our government to commit taxpayers’ money with the games estimated to cost $2.68 billion.

“The corporate sponsorship model and limited broadcast revenues for the Commonwealth Games would have put 93 per cent of financial burden and risks on Albertans.”

Click to play video: 'Australia pulls out of 2026 Commonwealth Games; Alberta still exploring 2030 hosting bid'
Australia pulls out of 2026 Commonwealth Games; Alberta still exploring 2030 hosting bid

A decision on moving forward with a bid was expected this month as bids for the 2030 Games are due to the Commonwealth Games Federation by Aug. 31.

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“In less than a month we were going to share the plan with the public and were eager to have an open dialogue about community priorities, advancing Reconciliation and building a vision as Albertans that we could collectively work towards,” Alberta 2030 Commonwealth Bid Committee officials said in a statement to Global News. “We are disappointed with the unexpected decision by the Government of Alberta and will not be commenting further at this time.”

Officials behind the bid previously announced they were undergoing a feasibility assessment for the bid, at a cost of $4 million split between the province, Edmonton and Calgary.

Reaction from Calgary, Edmonton mayors

The mayors of Alberta’s two largest cities both issued statements Thursday with their reaction to news of the termination of a potential bid.

“I appreciated being notified by Minister Schow as soon as the decision was made by the provincial government to withdraw its support,” said Amarjeet Sohi, Edmonton’s mayor.  “As one of the 40 best sports cities in the world, we were truly excited to unite people worldwide in a celebration of sport and culture, advance reconciliation with our Indigenous partners and create infrastructure and program legacies for future generations.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek says that while Calgary won’t co-host the Commonwealth Games, the city hasn’t ruled out hosting other major sporting events.

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“I look forward to further discussions with the province regarding the opportunities that remain for further investment in our sports and recreation facilities, as well as our ability to attract world-class athletes to our city,” said Gondek.

“On behalf of my council colleagues, I want to express my profound gratitude to BidCo and to all Calgarians who have worked tirelessly on this bid.”

Officials behind the bid have said facilities like McMahon Stadium, a Calgary field house, Commonwealth Stadium, an indoor velodrome and lawn bowling greens in Edmonton would be considered for event venues but upgrades could also be possible.

‘A table tennis tournament’: CTF applauds termination of costly bid

Alberta’s decision to remove itself from the potential 2030 Commonwealth Games bid was welcomed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

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“The Alberta government made the right decision and it’ll save taxpayers a bunch of money,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta director. “With so many Albertans struggling to make ends meet, it would have been wrong to stick taxpayers with a big bill for hosting a table tennis tournament.”

The CTF also embraced the decision of Premier Danielle Smith who, in her mandate letter to Tourism and Sport Minister Schow, outlined the need for referendums before committing to hosting large-scale sporting events.

“It’s good to see the government back away from this waste of money and commit to an extra layer of protection by requiring a referendum before tax dollars are wasted on future international sports tournaments.”

Click to play video: 'Economist says joint bids the way forward as talks swirl about potential Edmonton-Calgary Commonwealth Games bid'
Economist says joint bids the way forward as talks swirl about potential Edmonton-Calgary Commonwealth Games bid

What’s next for the Commonwealth Games

Edmonton previously hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1978. Victoria was the last Canadian host city in 1994.

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Earlier this year, Hamilton was considering a bid to host the games in 2030, but was informed by Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC) it was no longer the preferred candidate after the Ontario government wouldn’t commit to funding.

CSC said it was “profoundly disappointed” in the Alberta government decision, but respects it.

“We believe the recent decision by the Victorian (Australia) government to withdraw from the 2026 Commonwealth Games was a significant factor in Alberta’s decision, as well as an over-dependence on taxpayers’ support for the planning & delivery of the games,” a statement from Commonwealth Sport Canada said.

Click to play video: 'Finding ways to fill Commonwealth Stadium'
Finding ways to fill Commonwealth Stadium

Alberta’s exit as a potential host adds to the list of cities and countries that have pulled out of hosting. Australia announced last week it wouldn’t host the 2026 iteration of the games due to rising costs.

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The Commonwealth Games are held every four years, with competitors representing 74 nations and territories.

-More to come… 

—with files from Global News’ Saif Kaisar and Emily Mertz. 

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