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Alberta Opposition leader wary of estimated pricetag for Calgary Olympic bid

CALGARY — Alberta’s Opposition leader says he wants to see hard numbers about what it would cost the province if Calgary hosts the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Alberta has committed $700 million if Calgary bids for and wins the right to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It’s about $300 million less than what was expected — the bid corporation was asking for $3 billion in public investment as part of the $5.2 billion pricetag.

The federal government won’t provide more than $1.5 billion under a policy for hosting international sport events, and has yet to say how much money it would chip in.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says he remains “skeptical” about the pricetag and wonders about governments putting a hard cap on funding commitments.

If cost overruns happen, Kenney says it would have to be covered.

“When there’s a cost blowout, somebody’s got to pay the bills,” Kenney said after a speech in Calgary Tuesday.

Kenney praised the NDP for setting a firm contribution and allowing the process to be subject to Freedom of Information laws.

But he said the provincial contribution came in well under what was expected.

“I do know historically the NDP here and across Canada have not been boosters of major international sports events,” said Kenney. “I don’t think New Democrats are typically really jazzed about spending lots of money on big sporting events.”

Calgary city council could pull the plug on a bid at any time, but is unlikely to do so before a Nov. 13 plebiscite that will ask Calgarians if they want to host the Winter Games.

The International Olympic Committee will accept 2026 bids Jan. 11. The host city will be selected in June.

The federal government is expected to announce how much it’s willing to contribute in a matter of days.

But Kenney said the notion of a federal government contribution is misleading.

“At the end of the day there’s only one taxpayer,” he said. “A lot of Ottawa’s money comes from the wallets of Alberta taxpayers.”