Thrifty Olympic plan goes back to fu­ture

North Bay Nugget - - OPINION -

When host­ing the 2026 Win­ter games be­gan to be floated in Calgary, the goal was to pro­duce a low-bud­get ver­sion that would in­ject some fis­cal san­ity to the olympic move­ment. With pre­vi­ous Win­ter and Sum­mer games, coun­tries blew their brains out to im­press the world.

Calgary, which hosted in 1988, would en­list most of its legacy fa­cil­i­ties at great sav­ings.

Ceo mary moran and her Calgary 2026 bid cor­po­ra­tion have de­liv­ered on that premise. their pre-bid plan says the games could be held for $5.2 bil­lion (2018 dol­lars), at a cost of $3 bil­lion to tax­pay­ers. the rest of the rev­enue comes from the in­ter­na­tional olympic Com­mit­tee, tick­ets and spon­sors.

that’s sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper than 2010 Van­cou­ver ($7 bil­lion), 2014 Sochi ($50 bil­lion) and 2018 pyeongchang ($13 bil­lion).

the Calgary pro­posal, which goes to a

Nov. 13 plebiscite, uses all the sports fa­cil­i­ties from 1988, ex­cept the ski jumps. the Van­cou­ver games’ ski jump in Whistler, b.c., would be reused in­stead.

Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome, mcma­hon Sta­dium, olympic oval, Can­more Nordic Cen­tre, Nakiska Ski re­sort and Win­sport’s slid­ing and ski cen­tre would be up­graded and ren­o­vated at a pro­jected cost of $503 mil­lion.

So far there’s no venue for curling, but it has been sug­gested ed­mon­ton could host it.

the only new venues would be a field house and a 6,000-seat arena. but if the city and the Calgary Flames’ own­ers reach an agree­ment on an NHL rink, the or­ga­niz­ers would in­cor­po­rate it into the games.

moran and com­pany aimed to sat­isfy mu­nic­i­pal, al­berta and fed­eral purse string hold­ers. there’s no way the two se­nior gov­ern­ments want to be seen sign­ing blank cheques for a sport­ing event that has taken its share of knocks in re­cent years. and there’s lit­tle ap­petite in Calgary for raising mu­nic­i­pal taxes.

the plan also boasts of $600 mil­lion to cre­ate 2,800 units in an ath­letes’ vil­lage that would be turned into long-term hous­ing. and moran notes the games would pump $2 bil­lion into al­berta’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, pay $200 mil­lion in taxes and pro­duce 2,200 tem­po­rary jobs. Keep in mind vir­tu­ally ev­ery olympics has un­der­es­ti­mated costs and over­es­ti­mated ben­e­fits.

there are still some mys­ter­ies in the bid: We know ot­tawa would con­trib­ute up to 50 per cent, but there’s no cost-shar­ing deals with the al­berta gov­ern­ment and pos­si­bly b.c. gov­ern­ment yet.

how­ever, with all this talk about money, let’s not for­get the pri­mary pur­pose of hold­ing the olympics, is about throw­ing a world party that thrills and in­spires.

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