Re­fur­bish­ments a big part of plans

Calgary Herald - - NEWS - RYAN RUM­BOLT RRum­bolt@post­media.com On Twit­ter: @RCRum­bolt

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.


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