Calgary

First look at Olympic hub around McMahon Stadium revealed

Calgary 2026 unveiled the first glimpse of what a refurbished McMahon Stadium, new fieldhouse and new mid-size arena could look like if the city hosts the Winter Games.

Concourse of 1960s football venue would be transformed with accessibility front of mind, says Calgary 2026

This rendering shows what McMahon Stadium could look like for the Olympics in 2026. (Calgary 2026)

Calgary 2026 unveiled the first glimpse of what a refurbished McMahon Stadium, new fieldhouse and new mid-size arena could look like if the city hosts the Winter Games. 

Fergal Duff, the director of venues, villages and capital infrastructure for the bid corporation, says the primary focus when refurbishing old venues is accessibility. 

"One of the things that we'll be doing … is taking out a lot of the structures that are in between the columns in the concourse area. That will double the circulation area," Duff said regarding McMahon Stadium. 

The crowded concourse of McMahon Stadium could be opened up for the 2026 Winter Games. (Calgary 2026)

The plan also includes redoing the washrooms, making seating more accessible for those with disabilities and revamping the concessions. 

'Significant' impact

Dave Legg, the chair of the department of health and physical education at Mount Royal University, says those kinds of changes make a big difference. 

"And while those may not have huge, dramatic economic benefits that are easily quantifiable at the specific moment, I would suggest that they have significant and very meaningful and important changes to our society that would allow persons with a disability to sit amongst all of the spectators and not be secluded and segregated in one specific area," he said. 

This rendering shows the inside of a proposed mid-sized arena that would be built adjacent to McMahon Stadium. (Calgary 2026)

Drawings released by Calgary 2026 show the area around McMahon, the new fieldhouse and the new arena as a bustling Olympic centre, with room for outdoor festivities. 

The fieldhouse would have a temporary ice sheet during the Games to host figure skating, short-track speed skating and wheelchair curling during the Paralympics. It would then house a 400-metre track, courts and pitches. 

Almost $1B for venues

The organization will also refurbish the Saddledome — unless a new arena deal is struck between the city and the Flames organization — the Olympic Oval, the BMO Centre and Big 4 Centre, WinSport facilities, Nakiska, the Canmore Nordic Centre and Whistler, B.C., where ski jumping and combines nordic events would take place.

A view of the outside of a proposed fieldhouse adjacent to McMahon Stadium. (Calgary 2026)

The total budget for venues sits at $403 million for new venues and $502 for refurbishing old ones.  

Duff said they're still working through the details with the organizations that own and run the existing venues and haven't finalized any deals. 

"Right now, we're still negotiating with our venues on the exact costs," he said. "We've been working with McMahon stadium management on the different aspects of what that might be."

A view of what the fieldhouse could look like inside, set up for summer activities. (Calgary 2026)

The budget for McMahon is over $80 million, according to Duff. 

Investments in Canmore, Whistler

Details are also being worked out for other venues, but Duff anticipates some construction could start in 2019 if Calgary pursues the bid and the city is chosen to host the Games. 

He said there would be investments in Whistler that would include "technical aspects" of the ski jump as well as some "base-area development, some snow-making equipment, things of that nature."

And in Canmore, he said, they've been working closely with the town on the construction of 240 affordable housing units that would act as the Canmore athletes village during the Games. 

A rendering shows what McMahon Stadium, a new fieldhouse and a new mid-size arena could look like in 2026. (Calgary 2026)

When asked for a dollar figure on the fixes in Canmore, Duff demurred. 

"I'm not going to go into the specific details of the budgets for each individual venue," he said. 

The venue for curling is still not known, but Duff said there are "at least four good options" the organization is pursuing.

Calgarians will vote on whether they support an Olympic bid in a non-binding plebiscite on Nov. 13.

About the Author

Drew Anderson is a web journalist at CBC Calgary. Like almost every journalist working today, he's won a few awards. He's also a third-generation Calgarian. You can follow him on Twitter @drewpanderson. Contact him in confidence at drew.anderson@cbc.ca.