CALGARY, November 6, 2018 – Calgary’s proposed 2026 Winter Games bid is economical, cost-effective and responsible, and would provide significant benefits for the host region, according to a report released by the Canada West Foundation.

The analysis examines the costs, risks, benefits and opportunities of a Calgary 2026 Winter Games from economic, social, cultural, environmental, political and other perspectives.

The Winter Olympic and Paralympic games are a celebration of winter sport and winter spirit, the report notes. But the Games are a major undertaking too; communities involved need to ask hard questions about whether a bid is worth it. The report looks at two questions:

• Is the Calgary 2026 Games bid an economical, cost-effective and responsible approach?• Would the Games provide significant benefits for the host region?

The Foundation conducted an analysis of the delivery of the Games/operations and legacy investments, and found the answer to both of those questions is “yes.”

The report, Socio-economic Impact Study of a Calgary 2026 Winter Games, finds that the bid is clearly budgeted, minimizes costs and has contingencies in place to avoid cost overruns.

The Calgary bid is different from past bids in several ways. Having 11 of the 13 Games venues already built and operating not only minimizes costs, but also minimizes surprises from renovations and operations that lead to overruns. The host plan has benefitted from extremely detailed line item budgeting and the input from people experienced with the Vancouver 2010 Games and Toronto PanAm and ParaPan Games. Past Games budgets are not normally this detailed before the bid is accepted. The built-in contingencies of approximately $1 billion in 2026 dollars are significant.

According to the report, Calgary’s economy would experience an economic boost from an injection of funds primarily from outside the province, including the IOC, national sponsorships, tickets and merchandising The estimate, based on an adjustment of the Conference Board of Canada economic impact forecast, predicts an increase in GDP, wages and taxes to all levels of government before, during and after the Games. Not included are the benefits from the renewal of the Calgary-Bow Valley corridor 1988 legacy. Public sector commitments to housing will provide 1,100 affordable housing units in Calgary. And then there are the other benefits to the country from volunteer opportunities and an increase in national pride and sense of community, that are harder to quantify, but remain important in considering a bid.

The report was commissioned by the Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation. It was informed by: academic analyses of the economics of hosting the Games, economic and social impact assessments by consulting organizations (Deloitte, Conference Board of Canada, and Halcyon Consulting) and reviews of those impact assessments (Tombe and Humphreys); post-Games impact assessments of the sport and athletic venues created for 1988 Calgary Games; reviews of the Vancouver 2010 experience; and the hosting plans prepared by the Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation and the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee.

The report notes that a consideration of costs and benefits can’t address two additional questions:

• Can Calgary afford the Games?
• Is this what Calgary wants to spend its money on?

The answers to those questions are considered beyond the scope of the report.

“There are real concerns about whether or not a bid is worth it. The Olympics don’t have a great track record of being successful financially for their hosts. But Calgary can be different. The Calgary 2026 bid proposal is responsible, has a detailed budget and would bring long-term economic, social and cultural value. Communities involved in a potential Calgary 2026 Winter Games have to ask some hard questions about whether or not a bid is worth it. Our analysis of the hosting plan shows that Calgary has what it takes to put on a great Games and leave a lasting legacy.” 

Sarah Pittman, Canada West Foundation Policy Analyst and co-author of the report.

“We don’t need to overspend to have an amazing Games that will bring the world to Calgary and leave a legacy for Calgarians, Albertans and Canadians. In most Olympics, right up until the torch is lit, people worry about how much money is spent. That makes sense – the Olympics are no small undertaking. Our analysis shows that Calgary’s hosting plan is financially prudent and brings value to the host communities. We often don’t feel the benefits of the Games until they actually arrive, then the Olympics do what the Olympics do best – inspire us to be better.”

– Colleen Collins, Vice President, Canada West Foundation, and co-author of the report