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Calgary hasn’t pinpointed source of city funding for 2026 Olympic Games

Calgary city council took another step closer to an Olympic bid last week, but there’s questions around where they’ll get the money for their portion of the cost.

On Sept. 11, the Calgary Olympic BidCo’s draft hosting plan was delivered and it pegged the total cost at $5.23 billion. According to the plan, operational expenses, roughly $2.45 billion in 2018 dollars, would be offset by the IOC’s contribution, sponsors, ticketing, merchandising and other streams. This leaves nearly $3 billion left for the legacy and infrastructure project, with the cost being shouldered by the city, province and country.

While the $500 million number that has been rumoured as the city’s contribution to the Games capital costs hasn’t yet been confirmed, there will likely be a civic contribution. When asked where the money would come from, the city responded via email.

“A multi-party agreement has not yet been confirmed, and so we do not know what The City’s funding portion of a potential 2026 Games will be and has not identified a source for funding,” the email read.

“The City has not released any financial information on the Bid.”

This doesn’t sit well with Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca. Magliocca was one of three Calgary councillors who voted against moving ahead to a November plebiscite. Couns. Chu and Farrell also voted against it.

We asked him where he expected the city portion of the money would come from for the Olympics Games.

“Good question. That’s what I’d like to know. That’s what I’ve been asking for the last 11 months,” he said.

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“I don’t know where it’s going to come from. Are we going to raise taxes? I have no idea. Is it going to come out of reserves? I have no idea.

“That’s why I’ve been on the no side.”

He said it’s a critical part of the equation for people heading into the plebiscite.

“Wouldn’t you want to know where the money’s coming from when you’re going to go and vote?” Magliocca said.

When talking with reporters earlier this week, Mayor Naheed Nenshi did say that that city rarely uses property tax money for capital investments. Nenshi also said he didn’t know if $500 million was an accurate number, but he said at the time “let’s play with it.”

“If it’s about a half-a-billion dollars, we should realize that’s over an eight or nine-year period and the biggest chunk of that would be a fieldhouse, and we already have a fieldhouse on our books that we’re looking for funding sources for,” Nenshi said.

Nenshi postulated that since the fieldhouse was on the books for $300 million already, the actual contribution of the city is closer to $200 million, should the overall suggested city contribution actually be $500 million.

“That means the city is putting in $200 million and in return would be getting several billion in capital infrastructure. That’s a pretty good deal,” Nenshi said.