Tomorrow is voting day in Calgary, we get a chance to vote on if we want to bid for the 2026 winter Olympics in Calgary. I’ll be voting ‘no’ – what follows is my reasoning.
I’ve mentioned the oy-limp-icks before, so you should know I am not a sports fan. So, my level of ‘perceived value’ for the various sporting infrastructure and opportunities to experience sporting at an elite level is going to be lower than most people. To be clear, I don’t give a rat’s ass for the most part. I’d like to be able to see a hockey game involving Canada, but even that would be difficult at the very least. That being said…
I don’t think the Olympics would provide sufficient benefit for the costs. To top it off, the costs are too uncertain. Last minute funding deals with the feds don’t help my confidence in cost estimating either. Assuming we can stay within the $400M/$700M/$1452M City/Province/Fed cost, that is $307 per Calgarian, $162 per Albertan, and $40 per Canadian. Yes we get some facilities paid for in part by the rest of the country. Still not worth it in my books. I’d consider cost overruns to be highly likely – your guess is as good as mine, but I think you could double my numbers as a upper end for what this really might cost us.
The perceived value is trickier. The easy one to deal with is the argument “raise Calgary’s profile on the world stage”. It was a good argument for 1988 when the City was less known. Now, we’ve been there, done that. Hosting another Olympics will have a way smaller long term impact of raising our profile. Not to mention, the reputation of the Olympics is not what it once was, to say the least. I do not want to tie ourselves to this organization of questionable moral standards in this day and age.
Value of venues is another point of contention. If you love sports and feel that they are a great good for society, you’re gonna put a high value on these new and refreshed venues. But even the sports loving people I’ve talked to have doubts about the return on investment. To top it all off, there is little in terms of other infrastructure that would benefit us to come out of the Olympics. In 1988, we got an LRT line to the NW, which was a huge help to me being a university student at the time. This time around, I see little for extra infrastructure funding, arguably everything that is going to get built would have been built anyways within a similar time frame.
That is my argument for the day. If you are in Calgary, go out and vote tomorrow!