A GLIMPSE INTO OLYMPIC VENUES
Refurbishments a big part of plans
Calgary ’s Olympic bid corporation offered a glimpse of what numerous sports venues around the city would look like if a deal goes forward for the 2026 Winter Games.
The Olympic renovations would include around $500 million in refurbishments for 11 existing facilities, including McMahon Stadium, Saddledome, Olympic Oval and the ski hill at WinSport.
Fergal Duff, director of venues, villages and capital infrastructure with the bid corporation, said the much-needed upgrades to McMahon will improve accessibility for people with disabilities while “extending the lifespan” of the aging stadium.
During a news conference at the stadium on Friday, Duff said that the McMahon upgrades — including a new entry plaza, new team zone and concourse patio and renovated washrooms — would cost more than $80 million of the $500-million improvement budget.
“The public areas have remained pretty much the same,” Duff said. “Circulation areas are quite narrow for a stadium that has a capacity of about 35,000 seats.
“One of the things we’ll be doing is taking out a lot of the structures that are in between the columns in the concourse area. That’ll double the size of the circulation area … it’ll really be a dramatic change in terms of what it’ll look like.”
The stadium was built in 1960. Under the hosting plan, the 29,000-seat venue would be expanded to 40,000 for the duration of the Games.
Only two new sporting venues — a field house and mid-size arena — would be built in the city under Calgary 2026’s plan.
Duff said a new field house would cost an estimated $300 million while a 5,000 to 6,000-seat multiuse arena would cost another $100 million.
He said the arena would have two ice sheets, one of which would be for community use, and the field house would serve as a training hub for Olympians hoping to compete in either the Summer or Winter Games.
While a rink is a big part of the field house project, the facility would also house an indoor track and facilities for a variety of sports, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis and track-and-field events.
Niki Oudenaarden is a Summer Games hopeful who competes in the heptathlon, a trackand-field combined event spread over two days of completion. \ Oudenaarden’s sister Tamara was a long-track speedskater at the 2010 Games, but Niki said Calgary doesn’t have the same opportunities for Summer Olympic hopefuls to train.
“So for me, this opportunity to host and have this (field house) would be an awesome opportunity to progress in my sport, to progress our next generation … and also to continue building Calgary as community as we move forward in sport and in active living for the future,” she said.
Venues outside the city would also reap the rewards of a successful bid.
Despite being a Calgary-led bid, Whistler, B.C., is the planned home of ski-jumping and nordic combined events, both of which would see investments from the bid corporation.
He said the “technical aspects” of Whistler’s venues (built for the 2010 Vancouver Games) would see ski-jump upgrades and “base area development.”
The Canmore Nordic Centre was built for the ’88 Games and would see base area redevelopment, facility relocation and improvements to the Paralympic courses.
Duff said an athletes’ village in Canmore would be transitioned into 240 affordable-housing units after the Games, but added he couldn’t go into “specific details” on the individual budgets for each of the proposed construction projects.
One of the things we’ll be doing is taking out a lot of the structures that are in between the columns in the concourse area.
Calgary city council has revived talks with Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. around a new NHL arena, and Duff said the proposed Olympic plan has “the flexibility” to make changes should an arena deal be reached before the Games.
Calgary 2026 is still weighing options for where to host curling, with Duff saying there are currently “at least four” viable locations in southern Alberta.
“We’re looking at options within Calgary, as well as in the surrounding region,” he said. “We are hopeful that we will be able to confirm that very shortly.”
This rendering shows the proposed 6,000-seat community arena, which would cost about $100 million and be used in the 2026 Winter Olympics.
The proposed multi-sport field house would be used for figure skating and short track speedskating in the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. The interior field house could host numerous future sporting events and would seat 10,000.
Those behind Calgary’s Winter Olympic bid are promising wider concourses at McMahon Stadium, better accessibility and renovated washrooms.
A revamped and expanded McMahon Stadium would be used for both the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.