Calgary

Nenshi says group of private citizens working on bid for 2026 Commonwealth Games in Calgary

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says a group of private citizens is preparing a serious bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games and he is open to the idea but unsure there would be any financial backing available from the city.

To date, mayor says 'no order of government has offered financial backing for this bid'

Canadian flag-bearer Meaghan Benfeito, right, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Mayor Naheed Nenshi, right, says a group of private citizens in Calgary is working on a potential bid to bring the 2026 Commonwealth Games to the city. (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press, Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says a group of private citizens is preparing a serious bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games and he is open to the idea but unsure there would be any financial backing available from the city.

"They are people who know what they're doing and who are very enthusiastic about this," Nenshi told reporters Tuesday.

"As such, as of today, no order of government has offered financial backing for this bid. And the one thing I'm really interested in is what the province and the federal government have to say. But it is a very quick process."

Nenshi said he expects the 2026 Commonwealth Games will be awarded in the spring, leaving little time for a bid to come together, but he believes it's not impossible.

"I am always interested in not being the kind of bureaucratic government who stands in the way of citizens who want to do something interesting," the mayor said.

After the city spent millions of dollars in 2018 preparing a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Calgarians voted down the idea in a municipal plebiscite and the bid was abandoned.

Nenshi said the preparation work that was done at the time could still have value if Calgary were to pursue a bid for the Commonwealth Games, and the city has offered to share information with the group interested in pursuing a bid, whom he didn't identify.

"So, really, what we've said is we've got lots of data thanks to our Olympic bid," the mayor said. "We really understand our facilities very well. You are welcome to access that data to figure out what a Commonwealth bid might look like, but also we have to be very careful about funding, given that the city doesn't really have any money."

He said the city hasn't received any requests for funding yet, although there have been some preliminary discussions about the possibility of using the new arena the city plans to build in partnership with the Calgary Flames ownership group.

"It is a summer games, so the facilities are different, but I don't really understand or know at this stage what would be required," the mayor said.

"I'm open to an ask," he added. "I'm always open to ask. The question is: Can we actually fulfil it?"

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