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Province hints at potential new Calgary Olympic bid in the works

Coun. Andre Chabot said it's a different economic time and Calgarians may be more apt to support a renewed bid.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said a quick phone call would begin an engagement process on a potential new Calgary Olympic bid.

But, at this point it was news to her.

The mayor was responding to comments made by Alberta Minister of Culture Ron Orr at a funding announcement Tuesday for Calgary’s WinSport facility. During that event, Orr said he was aware of a number of potential proposals to bring the Olympics back to the city.

“We’re exploring it. There is a small group of individuals who have put together some proposals for a future opportunity,” Orr said in response to questions on a potential future bid.  

“We will certainly be looking at those as they come in as it becomes appropriate to talk about details. So yes, it’s possible.”

Calgarians rejected a plan to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. It wasn’t a close vote, with 56 per cent opposing it in a plebiscite.

Then-councillor Jyoti Gondek said she wouldn’t support a bid at that time. At the time, she said she wasn’t distracted by the “hype and the hoopla.”

Now, as mayor, Gondek said she didn’t know anything about potential proposals on the table.

“I don’t even know if it’s real,” the mayor said during a meeting break Tuesday.

“So, I’m not going to weigh in on things that are still imaginary. Once it becomes a real thing that I can absolutely respond to you.”

Different time, different result?

In 2018, Calgary was in the throes of an economic slump. Many touted the Olympics as the kind of city-building project that would get the city back on its feet.

Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot said that people didn’t have the appetite in 2018 to fork over billions on a potential Olympic endeavour.

There could be more today. He said the province had been keen to support a recent Commonwealth Games bid, so it’s no surprise they’re curious about another Olympic run.

“I think there would be a lot more appetite from the provincial government to contribute to an Olympic bid financially and resource wise,” he said.

“I think you’d probably be see a council that would be more supportive of moving forward with with an Olympic bid now than they were, say, two, three years ago.”

Chabot said you have to spend a lot of money to even get in the game. Back in 2018, that may have been a major drawback.

“Again, it’s it comes down to who’s going to pay for all this and what’s the return on our investment,” Chabot said.

“The return on our investment is huge if we’re successful. But of course, it’s a big capital outlay. So, if we can find some partners willing partners right up front, even before we performed our application, then I’d say it’s worth considering.”