Olympics would mean big revamp to Cal­gary’s ag­ing foot­ball sta­dium

Kingston Whig-Standard - - SPORTS - LAU­REN KRUGEL

CAL­GARY — A po­ten­tial Cal­gary bid for the 2026 Win­ter Games in­cludes a plan to make the city’s ag­ing foot­ball sta­dium more ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Fer­gal Duff, with the Cal­gary 2026 Olympic and Par­a­lympic bid cor­po­ra­tion, said ren­o­va­tions on McMa­hon Sta­dium are es­ti­mated to cost $80 mil­lion out of the $500 mil­lion ear­marked for re­fur­bish­ing ex­ist­ing venues.

An­other $400 mil­lion is ex­pected to be spent on a new field house and mid-sized arena.

“I truly be­lieve that what­ever good things we build, end up build­ing us,” said Duff, the bid cor­po­ra­tion’s di­rec­tor of venues, vil­lages and cap­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture.

With just four days un­til a non­bind­ing vote on whether the 1988 host city should ask for an­other turn, Cal­gary 2026 re­leased mock-up im­ages of what some re­vamped and new venues could look like.

Duff said struc­tures be­tween the columns at McMa­hon would be re­moved, dou­bling the size of its cur­rently cramped cir­cu­la­tion area. There would also be new wash­rooms and con­ces­sion ar­eas.

“It will re­ally be a dra­matic change in terms of what it will look like,” he said.

McMa­hon Sta­dium, home of the CFL’s Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers, was built in 1960 and was the venue for the open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies dur­ing the 1988 Cal­gary Olympics.

The sta­dium, which cur­rently seats around 35,000 and has not been ren­o­vated since 2005, would be used for the same pur­pose if Cal­gary ends up host­ing the 2026 Games.

Multi-medal-win­ning biath­lete and Nordic skier Mark Arendz, who was the flag bearer at the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the Pyeongchang Par­a­lympic Games ear­lier this year, said the ac­ces­si­bil­ity im­prove­ments would be mean­ing­ful.

“Th­ese mi­nor ad­just­ments will make a big dif­fer­ence in the lives of those who use it ev­ery day and all those gen­er­a­tions to come for the next 30 years hope­fully.”

David Legg, past pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee, said there may not be a huge, quan­tifi­able eco­nomic ben­e­fit, but the changes mean spec­ta­tors with dis­abil­i­ties would not be seg­re­gated in one spe­cific place.

“That, then, al­lows per­sons with a dis­abil­ity to be more in­te­grated fully into our so­ci­ety which then can have all kinds of dra­matic im­pacts,” said Legg, who chairs Mount Royal Uni­ver­sity’s health and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram.

“I see th­ese games as an op­por­tu­nity to take a gi­ant leap for­ward as it re­lates to the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of our fa­cil­i­ties, this just be­ing one ex­am­ple.”

Bid skep­tics have ques­tioned whether the in­vest­ments be­ing pitched as part of the bid would have been made any­way.

Other than McMa­hon’s makeover, Duff did not pro­vide a break­down of ex­actly how much would be spent to spruce up the other fa­cil­i­ties.

A venue for curl­ing has not been cho­sen, but Duff said four dif­fer­ent op­tions in Cal­gary and the sur­round­ing area are be­ing con­sid­ered.

HAND­OUT/CAL­GARY 2026 BID COR­PO­RA­TION

An artist’s ren­der­ing of a re­fur­bished McMa­hon Sta­dium in Cal­gary is seen in this hand­out im­age.

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