Calgary would need $2.4B to cover Olympics cost: report

It would require $2.4 billion in funding to cover the shortfall between revenue and costs if Calgary were to host the Olympics in 2026, according the group exploring a potential bid for the city.

Bid exploration committee estimates $4.6B total cost to host 2026 Winter Games, offset by $2.2B in revenue

The Scotiabank Saddledome, built as part of Calgary's preparations to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, is just one of the venues left over as the city contemplates another bid. (Ed Middleton/CBC)

It would require $2.4 billion in funding to cover the shortfall between revenue and costs if Calgary were to host the Olympics in 2026, according to the group exploring a potential bid for the city.

The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) figures it would cost $4.6 billion in total to host the Olympic Winter Games, which would be offset by $2.2 billion in revenue from operation of the games.

The committee presented the details in a report to Calgary city council Monday afternoon.

"I am confident when I say that the board and staff at CBEC have diligently reviewed all aspects of bidding and hosting a prospective 2026 Games, and the numbers we are sharing today accurately represent the current situation," CBEC chair Rick Hanson said in a release.

Post-game costs

The committee said its estimate is based on "the ability to re-use existing venues, eliminating the need to build multiple new facilities in favour of upgrading the same infrastructure used in 1988," when Calgary last hosted the Winter Olympics.

The budget estimates also include what CBEC described as "a sizeable cost contingency" of $450 million, including $235 million for operations, plus another $135 million in endowment for sport programming and the future operation of facilities used in the Olympics.

"One of the things we identified from looking at some prior Olympic Games was the failure to account for post-games operation and maintenance of facilities in their budgets," Hanson said.

"While this adds cost, our Board felt it was a necessary addition to a prospective budget."

Revenue sources and GDP boost

The report estimates that the International Olympic Committee would contribute $700 million, on a net basis, in cash to the games.

Other revenue sources include $820 million from domestic sponsorships and $320 million from ticket sales.

Hosting the Olympics would also be expected to bring a GDP boost of between $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion, including $500 million in tax revenues spread across all three levels of government, the bid exploration committee said.

Potential deficit concerning for mayor

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said while hosting the Olympics will create thousands of jobs, money, and a potential deficit of $450 million with the city on the hook, are concerning.

"I'm going to have to take a lot of convincing to be told that we should be running an operating deficit in that range while other parties like the IOC and the COC actually make a lot of money off of sponsorship and TV rights," he said.

"So really, the risk cannot entirely be held by the host city, in my opinion. So there remains a lot of questions I want to ask."

Hanson said the committee will have more details on the budget next month.

The committee is scheduled to present its final recommendation to city council on July 24.