Alberta’s joint Commonwealth Games bid appears to be stopped before it hit the starting blocks.
The Alberta 2030 BidCo provided a statement to LiveWire Calgary on Thursday confirming that the province informed them they would not support their Commonwealth Games bid. The group had planned to provide their plan this month.
“We received word yesterday that the provincial government was not in support of a bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games,” the statement read.
“Over the past several months, we have worked closely with the Government of Alberta, City of Calgary, City of Edmonton, Government of Canada, Tsuut’ina Nation and Enoch Cree Nation, as well as dozens of other community partners to develop a compelling plan to host the Commonwealth Games in Alberta.”
The province said they would be transparent about the cost of hosting international sporting events with Albertans. They said they want these events to clearly demonstrate a return on investment for the people and communities in Alberta.
“In the case of the 2030 Commonwealth Games, the numbers just didn’t add up for our government to commit taxpayer’s money with the games estimated to cost $2.68 billion,” read a statement from the Minister of Tourism and Sport, Joseph Schow.
“The corporate sponsorship model and limited broadcast revenues for the Commonwealth Games would have put 93 percent of financial burden and risks on Albertans.”
In the minister’s mandate letter, the province stated it would put together an application protocol for attracting and funding international sporting events. In July, Minister Schow said they wanted proper consultation with citizens.
Bid was set to come in a month
The Alberta 2030 BidCo said they were disappointed with the unexpected decision from the Government of Alberta.
“In less than a month we were going to share the plan with the public and were eager to have an open dialogue about community priorities, advancing Reconciliation and building a vision as Albertans that we could collectively work towards,” their statement read.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek expressed her gratitude to the BidCo for their work to this point. That work, she said, focused on three key areas: Looking at the overall cost and financial return the Games could provide, exploring opportunities for Reconciliation, and analyzing the benefits of hosting related to investments in community sports facilities with options to both upgrade and build new infrastructure.
“The Provincial Government’s decision to withdraw from Alberta’s 2030 Commonwealth Games bid process effectively terminates the bid and the City of Calgary’s participation,” she said.
“I look forward to further discussions with the Province regarding the opportunities that remain for further investment in our sports and recreation facilities, as well as our ability to attract world-class athletes to our city.”
Calgary did have some additional skin in the Games, so to speak. The proposed $380 million Calgary multisport fieldhouse was part of discussions around the Commonwealth Games bid. However, Calgary’s Director of Recreation and Social Programs, Heather Johnson, has said that regardless of the bid, there’s a need for the facility.
Later, Schow’s statement was updated to include comments on sporting infrastructure.
“Alberta’s government understands that recreation and sporting facilities are often the heart of a community. This is why we are establishing a Community Recreation Centre Infrastructure Fund to invest at least $80 million over four years in projects throughout the province,” it read.
The bid withdrawal news was welcomed by a coalition of groups that made up the No Alberta 2030 campaign. Common Sense Calgary, Common Sense Edmonton and the Alberta Institute were opposed.
“It is not the job of government to force a large portion of the population, particularly those who are struggling with basic necessities, to pay for the preferred entertainment of a small group,” read a statement from Peter McCaffrey, president of the Alberta Institute.
Earlier this year, Victoria, Australia opted to pull its 2026 bid for the Commonwealth Games. It was also set to be hosted in a series of regional hubs, like the early proposal in Alberta.