Opinions

Calgary in the race for 2026 Olympic bid

Although it may seem that getting a new hockey arena in Calgary for the Flames to play in is an ongoing battle, that hasn’t stopped the Heart of the New West from flirting with bidding to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
With existing infrastructure from the Calgary 1988 winter games that is still in decent shape, it would cost considerably less for Calgary to host than cities that would have to start from scratch.
Olympic luge athlete Kimberly McRae, who competed in her first world games at Sochi in 2014 winning bronze in the women’s singles event, says she sees a big benefit from Calgary hosting the games, should it win the bid.
“The winter games in Canada have created a legacy like no other,” said McRae.
She went on to explain that existing Olympic training facilities such as the Olympic Oval and Canada Olympic Park are some of the best in the world, which international athletes travel here to use to this day.
“There will still be a cost to hosting the games, but the cost will be way less than picking a place with no infrastructure,” said McRae.
While city councillors voted and approved spending up to $2 million on a potential bid at a city council meeting on Monday, Nov. 20, going towards an Olympic bid. The bigger issue will be getting provincial and federal support.
Naysayers will argue that Calgary is in no financial position to be wanting to host such an expensive event, but the Olympics could really be something for the city and its citizens to look forward to as we slowly climb out of the last few years spent in an oil and gas slump.
If the Vancouver 2010 Olympics were any indication, Canadians are definitely some of the most passionate sports fans out there, especially for the winter games where sports such as hockey, snowboarding, skiing and curling are some of the most highlighted events.
“Half the fun is travelling and competing,” said Kaylene Scheil, who made the Canadian women’s team for synchronized swimming in 2011, when asked if she saw any downsides to hosting the games in Calgary.
“However it’s a huge pro because you have hometown advantage.”
Having hometown advantage would mean more athletes get to perform in front of more friends and family, which would undoubtedly make them much more driven and they would also get to familiarize themselves with the venues before the actual competition.
Not that any members of Team Canada really need any more advantages in the Winter Olympics.
Creating world-class sporting venues in the city is something Calgary needs.
It needs the extra push towards a new arena, as the Saddledome currently sits second on the list of the oldest operating arenas in the National Hockey League behind only Madison Square Garden in New York.
While Canada Olympic Park and the Olympic Oval are still great facilities, they could use a face-lift, but they could make Calgary more of a modern metropolitan.
The mountains are close enough for potential use and with talks of tying Edmonton into the deal as well, it could be a great chance to showcase Alberta to the world once again.

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